Taking a trip to Gozo’s capital city for a night of opera at the beautiful Teatru Astra has become a tradition among culture lovers on the Maltese Islands. Since its inauguration in 1968, the Astra has hosted some of the world’s top singing talent – and staged lavish operas such as Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Aida and many others. World-famed tenor Joseph Calleja made his operatic debut in Macbeth way back in 1997.
In 2018, audiences will be able to enjoy Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, which will be marking Astra’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Gabriele D’Annunzio’s telegraphic phrase about Verdi, “colui che pianse ed amó per tutti” (he wept and loved for all), sums up in a nutshell the Maestro’s genius and flair. D’Annunzio’s telling phrase, himself no newcomer to love and tears, says it all about La Traviata. Perhaps in no other of his operas as in the magnetic La Traviata does Verdi concentrate the essence of his genius as a supreme interpreter of the human condition in all its strengths and weaknesses. Making full use of his dramatic prowess and intuitive sense of irony, Verdi’s immortal score plumbs the depths of waywardness and redemption through love. Yet, there is no escaping the terrible truth that there is no redemption without the shedding of blood, be it physical or spiritual.
La Traviata rises phoenix-like from the smouldering ashes of sacrificial love as a perennial testimony to the unequalled strength of the “weaker” sex. Indeed, nothing can stand in the way of the wilting Violet! It is not by chance that the tragic heroine’s name is Violetta but by design. And what a design! No head is more beautiful as that which is bowed down. No wonder that Verdi lavished some of his most glorious music on Enrico Maria Piave’s libretto based on Alexander Dumas play La Dame aux Camelias. Indeed, not only Violetta can be easily placed alongside the towering heroines of classic tragedies of all time, but the whole opera enjoys an undisputed pride of place, among Verdi’s prolific output and in the wider world of Italian opera.
La Traviata is timeless. The management is going the extra mile to ensure a memorable La Traviata. Enrico Stinchelli will be laying on an entirely new production specifically designed for the Teatru Astra boards, with musical direction by Mro Philip Walsh.
La Traviata, the flagship of Festival Mediterranea 2018 will be performed on the 25th and 27th October 2018. The opera is part of the Valletta 2018 Cultural Programme and supported by the Gozo Cultural Support Programme.