A German documentary about an island with more opera per square kilometre than any other spot in the world has won a prestigious international award in Prague.

The Aurora-Astra rivalry creates beautiful art, according to the German documentary.The Aurora-Astra rivalry creates beautiful art, according to the German documentary.

Called Gozo – One Island, Two Operas, the movie, directed by Claus Wischmann and produced by Holger Preusse for Sounding Images GmbH, has been awarded ‘Best Documentary’ at the Golden Prague Festival.

The 53-minute documentary, produced in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority and the Directorate for Tourism at the Gozo Ministry, focuses on the friendly rivalry between the Astra and Aurora opera houses in Victoria, Gozo.

According to the festival jury, a “masterpiece of structure and storytelling, this film shows music as the engine of social life in a small community”.

It treated the subject with respect, affection and humour, the jury said, adding that it showed the discipline, hard work and unbridled joy of friendly competition, which held an entire community together.

The documentary is in fact touted as being about “no-holds-barred commitment, a passionate love of music and how rivalry can bring forth genuine art”.

Mr Wischmann described the goings on in Victoria as “highly unusual”. “In other countries and cities one discusses the need for opera, but here in Gozo they go the whole hog,” he said.

Conductor Joseph Vella at a rehearsal.Conductor Joseph Vella at a rehearsal.

“The quality of the production, despite the small budget, is breathtaking, even though everyone has another day job and only does it as a voluntary activity.”

Gozo has 30,000 inhabitants and two opera houses. This means it has more opera per square kilometre than any other place in the world. The organisation, staging and some of the singing are all done by volunteers.

MTA’s CEO Paul Bugeja said he hoped that through the documentary, more people will get to know about the island’s cultural traditions and feel compelled to visit.

The camera team visited both opera houses with tenor Joseph Calleja, who began his career at 19 in the Astra opera house.The camera team visited both opera houses with tenor Joseph Calleja, who began his career at 19 in the Astra opera house.

Stills from the documentary provided by Berlin Producers Film GmbH.Stills from the documentary provided by Berlin Producers Film GmbH.

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