This year’s annual Teatru Manoel opera production is Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Possibly Donizetti’s most popular opera, L’Elisir d’Amore is a piece full of joy, hope and optimism and which makes you believe in love.

With delightful characters and a captivating story, this is a fairy tale opera which, very simply, makes you feel happy. This production is a brand new one for the Manoel Theatre, designed and directed completely by a Maltese team.

Director Denise Mulholland commented on the concept behind this production: “When I started work on the piece, I knew almost immediately I wanted to set it in the 1950s. For me that period is synonymous with new beginnings, especially in Italy, which was rebuilding itself after World War II.

”The country was emerging from that difficult time with confidence and buoyancy in a period which became known as Il Boom. Industry was growing, the economy was stabilising, Fiat and Vespa were flourishing, teenagers were developing an identity and moviegoers everywhere longed for a Roman Holiday.”

Inspired by films and aesthetics of the era, the action of the opera is moved from the original location of a farm where Adina was the landowner to a small, but stylish pensione on the Amalfi coastline – the Villa Adina.

Artistic director Kenneth Zammit Tabona said: “I am sure that the 1950s concept will go down a treat. It reminds us of the middle section of the famous film The Yellow Rolls Royce with Shirley Maclaine and Alain Delon set on the Amalfi Coast. In the film love and loyalty are in direct conflict. Elisir is similar in so many ways.”

The production features two casts of soloists appearing on alternate performances. These were chosen from almost 100 applicants from all over Europe, including Malta.

Among the Maltese artists playing the main roles are Cliff Zammit Stevens (alternating with Matteo Mezzaro) in the role of Nemorino and Francesca Aquilina and Rosabelle Bianchi who alternate in the role of Giannetta. Madina Karbeli and Shoushik Barsoumian share the role of Adina, Philippe-Nicolas Martin and Valdis Jansons play Belcore and Emilio Marcucci and Luciano Miotto play Dulcamara.

Supporting the soloists is the Teatru Manoel Opera Chorus . The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Philip Walsh.

The creative team includes Pierre Portelli as set designer, Isabel Warrington as costume designer and lighting designer Chris Gatt. The music team includes Juliette Bisazza as the opera music director and conductor Philip Walsh.

Performances are on March 12, 13, and 15 at 7.30pm with a pre-opera talk for ticketholders at 6.45pm.

Tickets are available online, by sending an e-mail to or by calling on 2124 6389.

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