This was the first time that the opera has been staged in Malta

As part of its community investment in the area of arts and culture, Bank of Valletta has supported this year’s opera by Gioachino Rossini – ‘Armida’, which was held at Manoel Theatre in Valletta on the 3rd, 6th, 8th and on the 10th of March respectively.

 

Armida is an opera by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Schmidt. This production featured renowned soprano Elisa Balbo in the lead role along with tenors Nico Darmanin, Anle Gou and Cliff Zammit Stevens respectively, KorMalta, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and Moveo Dance Company, with costumes designed by Luke Azzopardi. It was directed by Paul Carr and conducted by Davide Levi.

 

This was the first time that the opera had been staged in Malta and it tells the tale of the Saracen sorceress Armida, who uses her powers to bewitch and ensnare her Crusader enemies. With Rossini’s masterful composition and the exquisite libretto by Giovanni Schmidt, this production did transport the audience to a world of magic, love, and betrayal.

 

This opera is a true testament to Rossini’s genius, with its intricate vocal lines, breath-taking arias, and thrilling ensemble numbers. It showcased the composer’s ability to create music that is both technically demanding and emotionally resonant, making it a true delight for opera enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

 

Speaking about the Bank’s involvement, Charles Azzopardi, Head CSR said ‘Bank of Valletta is proud to once again have supported the Manoel Theatre’s annual operatic production that continued to promote Malta’s cultural richness. BOV has been supporting the Manoel Theatre continuously since the year 2000 and this is a particular year for the Bank since we are celebrating our 50th year of operations. Our support of Opera forms part of our community investment in the area of arts and culture and we are delighted to note that the festival has also provided excellent opportunities for talented Maltese artists to perform alongside established foreign artists at one of Malta’s most prestigious venues’.

 

Director Paul Carr commented on the fact that working this past month on Armida at the Manoel Theatre has been such a rewarding and uplifting time. ‘it’s such a beautiful theatre and operates under an old-fashioned guise that is hardly found in the world today. By “old-fashioned” I mean that it still uses original flying systems, hand-operated, and in some places, old stage lighting – but this only adds to the general lovely aesthetic of a production, and I love that. When Adrian Mamo asked me to direct Armida, his one request was that I should use the ancient hand-painted backdrops that belong to the theatre; some of them well over 100 years old and painted in gousche. I loved this idea, so the production was set in a museum at a private viewing of an exhibition about the crusades – this gave me the opportunity to embrace both the old and the new in Luke Azzopardi’s stunning costume designs, that embrace the present and the past – and similarity, involving Dorian Mallia and Moveo Dance Company lifts the production onto an altogether higher plane of expression.

 

‘I’ve been blessed with a fantastic cast and a fairly young and vibrant chorus who have been outstanding in their verve and commitment to the production. And then there’s the orchestra under the expert direction of Italian conductor, Davide Levi. So all in all, this has been a wonderful experience and I long to do it all again!

 

‘But, none of this would be possible without the financial support of BOV; the arts all over the world, and in particular opera, could not exist without support, and this is so important because it enriches our lives; it takes us beyond our everyday existence – it also offers work to so many people in all aspects of theatre – it’s a huge creative machine. The continued support of organisations such as BOV in the arts sector, and in particular in Manoel Theatre and opera, is of vital importance’ concluded Director Carr.

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