SBL Malta

Every year in March, the Manoel Theatre hosts the Opera Festival. It attracts music lovers from all over Europe who relish the chance to visit Malta and see some great performances at the historical Manoel Theatre. SBL has been hosting groups of visitors since the very beginning of the festival and is now a large supplier with some 500 tickets sold every year.

The Manoel Theatre

The origins of the theatre go back - of course - to the time of the Knights, to 1731 to be precise. That makes it the oldest theatre in the Mediterranean region. It was built to provide the knights with some wholesome entertainment and it hosted plays at first. The Manoel has not always been used as a theatre, its history is as varied as is the Island's. The horse-shoe shape is well known from classic theatres such as the La Scala in Milano and the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Its acoustics are perfect, but what strikes visitors most is the intimate atmosphere with some 500 seats in the stalls and boxes. Lately, restorations by Italian experts have revealed glorious paintings on the balconies and an imposing ceiling. The stage is small but lends itself very well to opera as everybody can follow the performances from a short distance.

The Operas

The operas have been well-known ones such as Falstaff, La Traviata, La Nozze di Figaro and Il Barbiere di Seviglia but also lesser-known works such as Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto.

The Performers

Malta has produced great opera singers such as Joseph Calleja and Miriam Gauci who perform regularly in the world's best Opera Houses from the Metropolitan to Covent Garden. Even so, a good part of the success of the Festival can be attributed to collaboration projects with other theatres such as the Massimo in Palermo. Art directors of international fame such as Elisabeth Smith have completed the international setup, but praise must be given to the amazing Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the batons of Michael Laus and Brian Schembri.

Coming up

In addition to the Opera Festival in March, the third edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival is also set to take place next year between the 13th and 27th of January. Organised by the Manoel Theatre, the Baroque Festival will consist of a daily programme of performances by both local and foreign choirs, musical ensembles and performers throughout the whole two week period. The events will be hosted in a variety of venues of historical significance including St. John's Co-Cathedral, St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the President's Palace, and of course the Manoel Theatre.
Opera Festival