2016.09.28 Life Begins at 40 News Image

1977 gave birth to Opera in Gozo with Teatru tal-Opra Aurora’s own production of Madama Butterfly. The year 1977 does not only mark the first opera in Gozo, but it also marks the renaissance of opera in Malta. The concept of opera was dying slowly and although demand for opera was, evidently quite strong, supply had ceased for a number of years. The Maltese Islands were about to lose a theatrical medium, which nowadays is dear to the Maltese and Gozitan population. Although the first opera in the Teatru tal-Opra Aurora was in 1977, the inauguration of the theatre took place in 1976 with its rightful owner, the Leone Band starring with a celebrated symphonic concert on the gala opening night.

Posted: 28th September 2016

A History of Game Changers

Teatru tal-Opra Aurora has contributed immensely to the opera scene not only in Gozo, but also in Malta. It has given a new meaning to ‘opera’ altogether. Upon hearing the word opera, our minds usually instantly transport us to grandeur scenery, A-lister singers and the classical aura that this genre offers. Opera in Gozo connotes this, and much more. ‘Opera’ means a joint effort and an incredible number of voluntary hours; a collision of passions producing the best operas in the market.

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Mastery is what the Aurora has managed to achieve after 40 years! Year after Year the theatre has hosted various A-lister singers, some of whom had sung at Milan’s La Scala, New York’s Met and other renowned world-class theatres around the globe; Maria Guleghina, Raina Kabaivanksa, Elena Mosuc, Eva Marton, Michele Crider, Neil Schicoff, Nicola Martinucci, Juan Pons, and Stuart A. Neill among others.

Impeccable interpretations and voices that will definitely give you chills are, however, not the only elements in the form­­­­­­­­­ula to success. At face value, each opera can be dubbed as “just another opera”, but the Aurora theatre has made sure to rip that phrase apart. The detail invested in every single scene is mind-blowing. It is a type of detail that can only be conceived with love, passion and immense dedication. The detail that each year is invested in being faithful towards not just the script, but the context behind each and every script accentuates the myths and the themes imbedded in the scripts, and produces magic on stage!

Then there is also the larger context. When it comes to opera, the theatre is also known as a risk-taker. In 1999 during a staging of Verdi’s “Aida”, audience members were in for a surprise when two real-life horses walked in on stage. They went as far as they could possibly go to make the opera as close as possible to reality and they succeeded. 1999’s “Aida” will forever remain imprinted in the memories of whoever was there to witness it – backstage, onstage and in the auditorium.

The theatre is home to tons of volunteers, who join efforts to create something new, something positive with a touch of love.

The larger context of risk-taking and breaking one’s own track record is powered by volunteer activism. The theatre is home to tons of volunteers, who join efforts to create something new, something positive with a touch of love. After each and every production there is a high amount of dedication, passion and patience with no expectation of getting paid. It is the feeling of satisfaction that year after year propel these volunteers to up their game and present top notch shows, operas and much more. The theatre has served as an art platform for various resident members. The “space” allows its members to fully exploit their talent in a unique way and to then showcase their talents in a theatre which can hold up to 1,600 audience members.

From the very first gala night on 9th October 1976, the theatre has seen a variety of shows of various genres. Throughout the years the Leone Philharmonic Society has had the pleasure of hosting band concerts by its resident band, Christmas variety shows, Chinese, Russian and French ballet shows, acrobatic groups, children’s school shows, foreign and local musicals, operettas, films, socio-political satire, comedy, drama, beneficiary fund raising theatre nights, as well as – wait for it – rock concerts! Locally renowned companies: The Naupaca Dance Factory and Centre Stage Academy, who in some way or another can call the Aurora as their incubation centre, still use the theatre for their shows. YADA’s own Felix Busuttil, one of Malta’s most renowned dance teacher and choreographer also knows his childhood days of dance at the Aurora as his late father was Society President while his dear mother devoutly sewed costumes and instructed dance for a variety of local social events.

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The list is never-ending. It has been a series of game-changing events and The Leone Philharmonic Society is by no means done. The theatre’s 40th anniversary is not only marking a milestone, but it is accepting the challenge to continue producing and growing. Volunteers have been working non-stop to introduce more concepts to promote the Arts and which will continue to light up our gem; the theatre. The Aurora Youth Movement (the youth-cum-educational branch of the Leone Philharmonic Society) in collaboration with other entities plans to introduce drama workshops and various other courses promoting the various art disciplines that may find a home within the theatre. Meanwhile, dance schools continue to assemble their classes in the dance studio housed within the same complex, tallying the Aurora’s artistic footprint to include classical ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance education.

In the meantime, the most important things about the Aurora’s 40th is yet another player – another game changer; you! Yes, you! You who plan to sustain us with your attendance. You who are curious enough to get backstage and realise that it is definitely not a no-go area. You, audacious enough to immerse yourself in the roller-coaster life of being a theatre volunteer and a theatre pioneer in Gozo… at our beloved Aurora.

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