Gozo may be a tiny island in the Mediterranean, but it still has two opera houses that manage to stage exceptional yearly productions. The Astra Theatre and the Aurora Opera House are both located in Victoria and put on at least one fully staged opera every year. These productions are highly sought by opera enthusiasts.
The Astra Theatre
The Teatru Astra in Victoria, Gozo was inaugurated in January 1968. It forms part of a larger musical voluntary organization, the Soċjetà Filarmonika La Stella founded in 1863. During these years, the theatre has hosted international performers such as Raffaella Carra, The Goggi Sisters, Al Bano and Romina Power, The Platters, Bobby Solo, Osibisa, the Montparnasse Ballet Troupe, Nek, the Ballet Classique de Paris and more recently Amedeo Minghi. Local talent has been extensively put to use and encouraged by the Theatre.
To the Teatru Astra’s credit, the Gozitan public enjoyed Operettas such as the Merry Widow, Principessa Della Czardas, The Goldoliers, The Great Waltz, Geisha and many others. Works of literary giants including Shakespeare, Goldoni, Ibsen, and Molière were also presented on the Teatru Astra stage.
In 1978, the Teatru Astra ventured in the greatest form of stage production: the Opera. Rigoletto was first on the list. This was successfully by other productions such as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Aida, Lucia di Lammermoor, L’Elisir D’Amore, Norma, La Traviata, La Forza del Destino, Nabucco, Turandot, Il Trovatore and Macbeth. Teatru Astra patrons have been exposed to world-class singers direct from the Metropolitan theatre in New York, Teatro alla Scala and Sofia State Opera House among whom Ghena Dimitrova, Pamela Kucenic, Adelaide Negri, Joseph Calleja, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Aldo Protti, Mark Rucker, Rumen Doikov, and Giuseppe Giacomini feature prominently. The Teatru Astra stage has also been the venue from where internationally acclaimed local artists, including Miriam Cauchi and Joseph Calleja, debuted their operatic career.
The Aurora Opera House
The Teatru tal-Opra Aurora, built in 1971-1976 according to plans, designs and decorations of the renowned Maltese artist Chev. Emvin Cremona, can host up to 1600 people. It has got a spacious auditorium, gracely sloped to ease vision and enhance comfort during the shows. This largest opera house on the islands houses its esteemed audiences in the stalls, a level of hall boxes accessed from within the auditorium and two other boxed tiers and an upper gallery. Its u-shape design, slope, architectural features, and wise choice of furnishing fabrics and materials including the soffit, endow the Teatru tal-Opra Aurora with perfect acoustics making it an ideal venue for operas and any other musical entertainment.
The theatre was inaugurated on the 9th October 1976 and hosted its first opera production, Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, in 1977.
The Teatru tal-Opra Aurora‘s main entrance is situated in lower Republic Street on the left hand side (going uphill). Ample free and unlimited parking is available at the Victoria’s central Car Park, only a 100m distance from the theatre premises’ rear entrance. Free (90-minute) parking is available outside the main entrance on normal days, but is usually restricted on major performance nights. The main entrance is recommended for mobility impaired patrons.
The Battle of the Operas
The Gozo opera scene was featured in a documentary produced by a German TV station. The documentary can be viewed by clicking here.