On June 12, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri hosted Michael Caruana, president of the Leone Philharmonic Society and the Aurora Opera Theatre, together with his counterpart from the Astra Theatre at the Ministry for Gozo to announce that the October operas for which Gozo is so renowned are being postponed to October 2021. Subsequently, Aida has been rescheduled for October 9, 2021.
Matthew Sultana, the Aurora Theatre’s European Opera Days national coordinator, explained that “the ministerial announcement of the postponement of the Gozo operas in October underlines the pivotal role of these events (and the theatre companies behind them) in the image, identity, economy and market to which Gozo projects itself.
“It is for this greater purpose that opera at the Aurora enjoys the distinguished support of Arts Council Malta together with the Ministry for Gozo, who run and administer the Gozo Cultural Support Programme,” Sultana said.
“The Gozo Cultural Support Programme shall, in fact, this year support an alternative programme of events that will be announced in due course, making opera in Gozo more present in digital and cyber form.”
He went on to express regret at the postponement.
“The bold decision, albeit a saddening one, was taken in the best interest of our volunteer activists, our distinguished artists and our beloved audiences. It does by no means mean that we foresee an autumn lockdown,” Sultana said.
“God willing, we shall all be fine in October and we’ll be lucky to think, come October, that we were overcautious in postponing the opera performance. However, one understands that the actual opera night is just a tiny fraction of a much larger project that should have been up-and-running in the past weeks and months when we were responsibly confined indoors.”
The Gozo Cultural Support Programme shall support an alternative programme of events, making opera in Gozo more present in digital and cyber form
In response to enquiries about tickets and seats, Sultana noted that “ticket holders of Aida 2020 were already given the option for a full refund or transfer of tickets to Aida 2021” and that they are “very heartened to see that a great many of them chose the latter.”
Aida 2021 online sales will open very soon.
Meanwhile, the theatre is understandably pleased to announce a return to what it calls the “new normal”.
“At the moment, we feel we may rejoice in what may be the first steps towards a new normal… and indeed it is very new! As the Maltese government allowed the reopening of catering establishments, the Aurora Opera House, seat of the Leone Philharmonic Society, is now open again with its new Aurora Bistro Café and Blue Lion Gastro Bar,” Sultana continued.
Run and managed by the Zammit cousins, partners Joshua and George Marlon, the new design is the work of DAAA Haus (Design, Arts & Architecture Associates). It is evocative of the 1970s look with which the Aurora was born as an opera and band club, while fully respecting the late Victorian architecture of the villa that houses the whole establishment.
The new Aurora Bistro Café, with the freshly-restored bay windows, is located in the former billiards halls.
The two venues temporarily display a digital copy of the early 20th-century ceiling paintings, which are currently undergoing restoration.
This is the first step in what is to be considered as the ‘new normal’. No theatre, no visits, no performances so far. But the Bistro Café and Blue Lions Gastro Bar with their creative and sumptuous menus will be open all day between 7am and 11pm.
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