2020.08.12 Its Festa Time News Banner

Those who know the Aurora theatre and its community well, need no explanation when we say it’s festa time. But for the others, there is one very simple explanation. The Aurora Opera House was built and is still managed by a community of people of faith who flock around a musical civic band and a parish church. The band is the Leone Band. The parish church is the Cathedral Church situated within the Gozo Ċittadella walls. And this church celebrates Santa Marija, the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven on August 15th. Hence, it is festa time.

Posted: 12th August 2020

Pandemic Chronicles: it’s festa time.

New decorative illumination for the Aurora Theatre façade.


A community en fete
By normal standards, festa time means that our volunteer musicians play festive marches every evening from 11th to 15th August, an open-air concert on 9th August in front of the Aurora, accompanying fireworks are let off on each and every night, festive decorations, banners and papier mache statues adorn every street in Victoria, solemn liturgy is officiated in the Cathedral Church every morning and evening during the first half of August, so on and so forth.


Our festa, another COVID-19 casualty
2020, however, is proving to be anything but normal. Gaulitana’s Otello was the first COVID-19 casualty. Our own Aida was the second. And so was our beloved Santa Marija feast. It has been whittled down to the very bare essentials, i.e. August 15th. No preparatory nights. Therefore, the 2020 version of Santa Marija went from 6 festive evenings down to a one-hour live-streamed religious function with the Santa Marija statue and the Leone Band inside the Ċittadella bastions (and no public!); 6 evenings of aerial fireworks displays, down to an hour on the 14th and two hours on August 15th; festive decorations around Victoria city, down to a decorated façade of our band club (and Aurora Opera House) and the Cathedral square within the Ċittadella fortifications. It is with a heavy heart, but an open and responsible mind that we curtail and redefine the 2020 popular celebrations.

The Leone Band Club and Aurora Opera House are still going through their unprecedented period of transformation, update and renovation. Coinciding with the Santa Marija festivities, it was time to inaugurate the new decorative illumination of the 19th century Victorian façade.

2020.08.12 Its Festa Time News Banner 2

A new decorative illumination system
In the meantime, however, the Leone Band Club and Aurora Opera House are still going through their unprecedented period of transformation, update and renovation. Coinciding with the Santa Marija festivities, it was time to inaugurate the new decorative illumination of the 19th century Victorian façade.

The Aurora Opera House was built by the Leone Philharmonic Society in 1976. It was integrated into a 19th century villa, which once belonged to the well-positioned family of Dr Ettore Tabone, himself a former President of the Leone Philharmonic Society. The Tabone family lived in the house until 1971 when they sold it to the Society, to be converted into a band club and opera house. The original façade comprised two floors until a third was added in 1993.


The blue banners will last until August 15th, but the illumination is now permanent. Its design, labour and materials have been donated in kind by long-time supporter and active volunteer, Patrick Camilleri. The new illumination was lit up for the first time on August 10th, by the Leone Philharmonic Society and Aurora Theatre President Dr Michael Caruana LL.D. during a live-streamed session, as a number of supporters witnessed the event in person.

And of course, it being festa time, we couldn’t miss some magnificent rooftop fireworks.

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