May 12, 2022, Valletta, Malta “Opera has always held a special place in our hearts, our culture and society. And although today it competes with popular musical genres and entertainment, our love for opera has certainly not dimmed. In our case, it gave birth to a dream – Malta Opera”, said Nicola Said Soprano, Founder and Artistic Director of the newly launched collaborative opera initiative.
Malta Opera launched with a Gala Concert on Thursday May 5 2022 at the Casino Maltese, Valletta.
With a rich and diverse programme organised by Nicola Said and featuring fifteen established Maltese opera singers who were joined by young and emerging singers, the ballroom was packed with VIP guests, friends and families. Established performers (in alphabetical order) included: Francesca Aquilina, Albert Buttigieg, Louis Andrew Cassar, Graziella Debattista, Clare Ghigo, Joseph Lia, Nicola Said, Ken Scicluna, Cliff Zammit Stevens, Nadia Vella, Charles Vincenti and Gillian Zammit. Emerging singers (also in alphabetical order) participating were Michaela Agius, Mariette Borg, Mariah Costa, Maria Grazia Grech, Madeleine Gruppetta, Gabrielle Portelli and Nicole Vassallo. The pianist was Maria-Elena Farrugia. Compère for the evening was Joseph Chetcuti, while Albert George Storace prepared the programme notes. The programme covered a broad repertoire of music by well-loved international composers Handel, Mozart, Léhar, Donizetti, Gounod, Gilbert and Sullivan, Bernstein, Verdi, Puccini, Sorozábal and Maltese composer Camilleri.
Malta Opera is a unique concept for the Maltese Islands. It is a professional collaborative opera initiative bringing together Maltese singers, experienced and professional management, artistic production, and internationally-renowned conductors with long standing connections with Malta. Shortly before the launch, Malta Opera held a Masterclass at the Malta Society of Arts in Valletta – “The German System: What’s Your Fach?” – during which eight local talented singers shone for three days under the coaching of international masters, Conductor Ben Woodward and Director Detlef Sölter.
As Nicola explained, “We believe that investing in the future of opera is the key to giving opportunities to those singers who study and perform both locally and internationally. We also believe that it is important to promote the work as a multidisciplinary platform and develop a community of supporters.” It is a well-known fact that the Maltese have a deeply-rooted infatuation with opera culture. From global superstars like Oreste Kirkop and Joseph Calleja, to internationally acclaimed singers such as Miriam Gauci, Lydia Caruana and Antoinette Miggiani, they bring out the best of local talent and the Maltese communities. Today in Malta there is a completely renewed cohort of talented opera singers following important international professional opera careers. In addition, there are many other great and promising Maltese voices among opera students studying at home and abroad.
Unfortunately, such talent is not always adequately appreciated due to the lack of local opportunities. Young singers leave Malta to pursue their dreams abroad, with little hope of returning to pursue a full-time artistic career. They do however shine in highly acclaimed productions overseas productions. This is the gap that Malta Opera has set out to fill. It is the stage for society and local Maltese communities to appreciate the enduring and beautiful aspects of the opera’s art form through local talent.
Nicola adds, “Our dream is to grow the company and have world-class opera productions that bring together Maltese talent from all over the world. We are also planning to develop exchanges with international opera singers, productions and companies. Whether it is education through masterclasses, exploring of innovative ways to bring work to life through emerging technology and media, or opportunities for through multidisciplinary concerts and opera scene productions, we want opera to be the beating heart of our communities.”
Present for the launch were various personalities from culture, politics and industry, including the Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and the Local Government, H.E. Dr Fabrizio Romano, Ambassador of the Italian Republic in Malta, representatives from the German and Spanish embassies, Mr Alfred Camilleri, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Finance and Employment and Ms Lydia Caruana, Soprano.
Malta Opera could not have come to life without the sponsorship and support of the travel partners AirMalta, Arts Council Malta, the Janatha Stubbs Foundation, RISC Institute, Malta International Airport and APS Bank, as well as the support of the Malta Society of Arts, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Casino Maltese, together with Market Accents and Culture Ventures, advisors, Paul Nailor, volunteers and friends.
Malta Opera will be releasing details of its future programme and activities on the website (www.maltaopera.com) and social media. It is also available for cultural activities, corporate events and commissioned productions. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Malta Opera Founder and Artistic Director, Soprano Nicola Said with Gala Concert Compère Joseph Chetcuti.
Malta Opera Founder and Artistic Director Nicola Said, Soprano with Louis Andrew Cassar, Baritone in a duet during the Malta Opera Gala Concert
Soprano Nadia Vella and Tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens in a duet during the Malta Opera Gala Concert
Singing Libiamo – the grand finale during the Malta Opera Launch Gala Concert at the Casino Maltese, Valletta.
Notes to Editors:
Malta Opera is a professional collaborative opera initiative bringing together Maltese singers, experienced and professional management, artistic production, and an internationally-renowned conductor with long standing connections with Malta.
It is the stage for Malta Opera to provide Maltese society and communities with the enduring and beautiful aspects of the opera art form featuring and promoting home-grown talent.
Malta Opera is a not-for-profit charitable organisation and was founded in 2021. It has launched a programme of activities during 2022 that includes a Masterclass and a Gala Concert. For further information please visit www.maltaopera.com
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