The original “Royal Opera House” was designed by English architect Edward Middleton Barry. It had a seating capacity of 1095 and 200 standing and was inaugurated in 1866. In 1873 the theatre accidentally caught fire and its interior was extensively damaged. Restoration work was taken up immediately so that in 1877 the theatre reopened. For many years, the theatre served as the prime theatrical venue of Malta but on the evening of April 7, 1942 the theatre suffered its second tragedy when it was devastated in an aerial attack by Stuka dive-bombers.
Eventually, the ruins fell into disuse but in 2006, the government announced a proposal to provide an open-air theatre. It was officially inaugurated in 2013. While regarded as a Second World War monument, the newly built theatre shows an aspiration to preserve past culture with a promise to create and nurture new artistic ideas.
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