Valletta
A season of revival! Teatru Manoel set to embark on a new chapter in its 300-year history
Artistic Director Adrian Mamo delves into the timeless significance of the national theatre and its duty to provide artistic excellence.

Dean Muscat

In a world where streaming services, endless online entertainment, and now, even instant AI-generated art dominate our screens, the traditional theatre may seem like a relic of the past. However, for Adrian Mamo, the newly appointed Artistic Director of Teatru Manoel, the islands’ national theatre, the value and significance of theatre in our society remain resolute.

Since assuming the role in April of this year, Adrian has found himself reflecting on the theatre’s historical roots to understand better the role it needs to assume today.

“The theatre is an important place,” he shares, “because it allows us, as human beings, to do what we do best: immerse ourselves in imagined worlds through the art of storytelling. This is a tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks, who used theatre as a platform for discussing profound themes such as power, morality and societal issues. It has always been a source of education and enlightenment, provoking thought and dialogue among communities.”

Adrian Mamo Manoel Theatre

People are certainly not in lack of entertainment nowadays, but Adrian questions the narratives we increasingly consume and their impact on our growth as individuals and as a society: “what quality of stories are we receiving? Do they have substance? I believe that it is our responsibility, within the theatre, to be a beacon of quality and substance. It is our duty to bring people together to experience live performances that aspire to uplift, inspire and transform.”

A highly accomplished architect by profession, Adrian has long harboured a love for the arts from a very young age, particularly in the realm of theatre and music. Moonlighting as a set designer for many years, he has created sets for more than 50 local productions, 25 of which were staged at Teatru Manoel alone.

His first foray into set design brought him face-to-face with the challenge of creating a moving set for a local production of Chekhov’s timeless masterpiece, ‘The Cherry Orchard’ at the Manoel. Reflecting on that formative experience, he reveals: “I was intrigued by how you could create a whole world on such a small stage.”

Now taking on the role of Artistic Director for the theatre he has dressed up countless times, Adrian explains his responsibilities extend far beyond merely setting a vision and curating a programme of events every season. For him, it is imperative to challenge the artists and theatre-makers who bring their productions to the Manoel’s illustrious stage in order to push the boundaries of artistic expression, elevate the quality of the craft and urge them to give the very best in every aspect of their work. This ranges from the selection of productions to the meticulous design of sets and the curation of exceptional talent.

Manoel Theatre

Brian Grech

“I also feel it is my duty to be a scout of sorts, staying attuned to the live theatre scene across Malta,” he adds. “I make it a point to actively seek out promising productions and up-and-coming talent. When a production truly captures our attention and showcases genuine artistry, I am eager to provide these hidden gems with the recognition and exposure they deserve on the Manoel stage.”

In the spirit of opening the doors of Teatru Manoel to new voices, fresh perspectives and untapped talent, Adrian is also actively championing new writing, seeking to create a platform where contemporary and relevant works can thrive. Recently, Teatru Manoel in collaboration with Teatru Malta – the national theatre company – issued a call for new theatre works. This initiative serves as an exciting research and development programme, nurturing budding playwrights.

“We are especially keen to find works that feel contemporary and relevant to the world we live in today. When works of outstanding quality emerge from this creative exploration, we are determined to bring them to the stage at Teatru Manoel and breathe new life into our theatre scene,” he states.

As the theatre forges ahead with these dynamic, long-term plans, constantly evolving to shape its future, Teatru Manoel also eagerly anticipates the arrival of its forthcoming artistic season. Spanning from September to June, the programme promises an exhilarating line-up of productions that cater to diverse tastes and artistic preferences, including plays in both Maltese and English, dance shows, musicals, puppet performances, and more.

Several highly anticipated annual highlights are poised to make a triumphant return. Among these is the Christmas pantomime, a much-loved Manoel tradition. This year, audiences can anticipate a spell-binding rendition of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, brought to life by the exceptional talent of the Malta Amateur Dramatic Club.

In January, the theatre will undergo a transformation as the Valletta Baroque Festival takes centre stage. And as spring blossoms, the stage will become a canvas for leading classical and contemporary ensembles and virtuosos during the Malta Spring Festival.

Manoel Theatre

What’s more, two extraordinary opera productions are set to offer audiences an immersive journey into the arena of heart-rending arias, larger-than-life storytelling and spectacular set design. Recognising the theatre’s unique suitability for smaller operas, the Manoel team aims to showcase lesser-known masterpieces by celebrated composers that will enchant local audiences with their musical prowess and breathtaking theatricality.

On 10th and 11th November, the stage will come alive with Mozart’s enchanting ‘Apollo et Hyacinthus’. Written by the musical prodigy at the tender age of 11, this early masterpiece delves into the Greek myth of Hyacinth and Apollo as narrated by the renowned Roman poet Ovid in his ‘Metamorphoses’. Produced by Festivals Malta, this production presents a special occasion for opera enthusiasts to enjoy the live experience of this exquisite opera on local shores.

In early March 2024, the theatre will proudly present its own production of the lesser-known opera ‘Armida’ by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. Blending mythology and history, ‘Armida’ tells a fantastical tale set during the Crusades, where a sorceress blessed with beauty and dark powers, seeks to regain the love of the noble knight Rinaldo.

Accompanied by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of esteemed Italian conductor Davide Levi, this visually stunning rendition boasts the creative vision of stage director Paul Carr. The principal tenor roles will be performed by Malta’s very own Three Tenors: Alan Sciberras, Cliff Zammit Stevens and Nico Darmanin. Notably, the production will feature 100-year-old scenery originally from the Royal Opera House, a relic of operatic history that is set to add an extra layer of grandeur to the performance.

Adrian expresses his excitement for ‘Armida’, stating, “this promises to be a very special opera production, a true example of performing arts at its best. It offers a feast for the senses, bringing together fine music, a captivating story, demanding vocal performances, and colourful visual design. Audiences can expect an unforgettable experience that highlights the timeless brilliance of the operatic tradition on one of Malta’s most beloved stages.”

For more information on Teatru Manoel’s upcoming artistic season, visit teatrumanoel.mt

7th October 2023



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