200 volunteers contribute to Festival Mediterranea 2012
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Preparations are well in hand for this Thursday’s and Saturday’s representations of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly at Teatru Astra in Victoria, to open the 11th edition of Festival Mediterranea.
The Minister for Justice, Dialogue and the Family, Chris Said visited Teatru Astra on Sunday afternoon as rehearsals were in progress. He met the main cast, choir members, backstage crew and the opera organising committee as well as Italian artistic director Enrico Stinchelli and music director Prof. Mro. Joseph Vella. Giacomo Puccini’s most-loved opera will be staged this coming Thursday, the 25th and Saturday, the 27th of October.
The main cast for this year’s production is made up of three world-class singers that are regulars at important opera houses around the world including the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Covent Garden in London and the Metropolitan in New York – soprano Daniela Dessì in the title-role, tenor Fabio Armiliato and baritone Carlo Guelfi. Other roles will be sung by Olga Sliepnova in her Malta-debut and Dario Russo who is returning to Teatru Astra, together with a number of young Maltese singers including tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens whose opera debut was at Teatru Astra in October 2011.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be under the baton of Prof. Mro. Joseph Vella while the Teatru Astra Opera Chorus is being coached by Maria Frendo.
While praising the efforts of the management of Teatru Astra for continuing to raise standards in such cultural events these last years, the Minister remarked that opera in Gozo has another dimension that distinguishes it from such productions elsewhere, which is voluntary work.
He lauded the fact that over 200 volunteers give a hand in the organisation, on-stage and back-stage facilities without whom it would be impossible to produce such events. “It is estimated that since 2002, from the first edition of Festival Mediterranea, at least 1,500 tourists visited Gozo exclusively to attend the festival’s events,” he said.
The festival runs until the 17th of November. Besides opera, it includes the only Malta-performance of an original tango production, a concert of opera arias, a recital by the world’s youngest left-hand-only pianist, a brass ensemble and soloists’ recital, and the Annual Grand Concert by the La Stella Philharmonic Band; as well as a number of site-visits and lectures.
Photographs – DOI/Lorne Cremona.