October sees the start of a very exciting and eclectic nine-month season at Malta’s National Theatre. Get your cultural calendars open and start pencilling in!
The 2015-2016 programme opens to the sound of trumpets. Brian Schembri will be conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied by world renowned trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov on the 2nd October.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will then continue to pepper the calendar with six more thrilling concerts. ‘Wednesdays at the Manoel’ are a series of recitals by established local and foreign artists, with music ranging from classical to jazz and contemporary.
The Leipzig Quartet will give their final two recitals of Beethoven’s String Quartets, and violinist Charlie Siem shall return to perform with Julian Dyson. The music programme of more than 25 different events is completed with the return of Vienna in Valletta, a concert by Brikkuni, Ionisation, the annual band concert and Teatru Unplugged.
Image: The Leipzig Quartet
Artistic director Kenneth Zammit Tabona states, “For the first time in ages, we will be having two operas in this season; Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is a match funding project between the Theatre and Valletta 2018, which entails the cooperation of two entities – TMYO (Teatru Manoel Youth Opera) and VIBE (Valletta International Baroque Festival Ensemble). Our annual opera production in March is another very popular and well-loved baroque opera – Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. While these could mark a radical departure from the usual fare, they are in spirit and in physical dimension far more commensurate to the theatre’s ambience and above all its footprint.”
One of the major events is undoubtedly the Valletta International Baroque Festival in January, which includes 21 different concerts and recitals in 9 different venues in Valletta from the 16th till the 30th January.
There are 10 drama productions, which include two new Maltese plays by Staġun Teatru Malti – Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ and Marti Martek, Martek Marti.
There’s also the world premiere of Edward Bond’s new play, The Price of One, which is commissioned by Teatru Manoel and co-produced with Unifaun Theatre Productions. We also look forward to the revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, produced by the MADC.
Other dramatic works include It’s All About My Tea, which is devised and performed by Lou Ghirlando. Masquerade Theatre Productions will be giving us One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Ir-Raġel Tagħna, Miżżeweġ Magħna is a Maltese translation of Ray Cooney’s farce Caught in the Net, and FourPlayFour by DnA Productions will bring great satirical comedy.
Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre will end the season with their new production of Rubbish. Not listed with the above is the ever popular annual Christmas pantomime by FM Theatre Productions, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood.
Image: Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
The Manoel will be presenting two very exciting dance shows. Chancel and Spirall are two contemporary ballets performed during the same evening by Ballet de l’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole. Spirall is composed by Max Richter, and Chancel by Maltese composer Ruben Zahra.
ŻfinMalta will perform HOME, a reworking of Mavin Khoo’s 2014 production of Bla Konfini/Borderless (originally commissioned by the FCN) with music and sound design by Renzo Spiteri.
Teatru Manoel’s Toi Toi Education Programme, devised and run by Arts Education consultant Rosetta Debattista, continues to develop substantially. The ever popular concerts for children 022 and 325 are back with more performances of the latter.
PikuZi will also return with a series of 5 fun and educational new plays in Maltese for children aged 6+. There are six new Toi Toi Moves productions of contemporary dance for children of various ages, created and presented by various choreographers, including Moveo Dance Company and ŻfinMalta.
One-off Toi Toi events for all the family are the Easter Sunday Big Band Concert and Decomposed, which is a brilliantly moving play told in a very silly way through classical music. Part of this programme are also Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre (TMYT), Teatru Manoel Youth Opera (TMYO) and the newly formed Teatru Manoel Youth Performers (TMYP), who appear throughout the season in their own in-house productions and as part of other events, such as Notte Bianca and the Żiguzajg Festival.
Ray Attard, the Theatre’s CEO, summed up the season by stating, “Keeping this historic building functional and, above all, relevant is not an easy task with the limitations of a footprint which dates back to 1731. Balancing the needs and wants of a contemporary audience within an 18th century framework is daunting, but I believe that we have once again produced a stimulating and varied programme, which includes something for everyone and, quite literally, for all ages. We have also made every effort to keep it affordable by not raising seat prices and offering discount schemes. As a nation, we should be proud to have such a world-class theatre with world-class artists, as well as a performance calendar which is the busiest of any arts establishment in Europe.”