As renowned tenor Nico Darmanin gets set to take to the stage for his long-awaited concert Unforgettable, Jo Caruana meets Jasmine Abela, the young singer who will be accompanying him.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner you would be forgiven for wondering how to mark the ‘holiday’ this year. Flowers? Chocolates? A nice romantic meal? Well, all that works of course. But tenor Nico Darmanin has another idea up his sleeve – which is exactly why he’s chosen to stage his upcoming concert on Valentine’s Day itself, and then for two consecutive nights after that.

“I am in love with love,” the singer smiles, chatting to me in between rehearsals for his upcoming opera, and not long after he has returned to Malta fresh from his debut performance with the world-famous Glyndebourne.

“If I think back, listening to Frank Sinatra was probably one of the things that got me into music in the first place, so it’s lovely to be bringing that genre of music to Maltese audiences now.

Darmanin definitely considers himself to be a romantic, so he wanted to create a truly, unabashedly romantic concert for people to enjoy together this year while singing along to the best of the Golden Oldies. “Whether you’re in love or not, this is the place for love,” he says.

He doesn’t perform in Malta very often, and will soon return to the UK to join the Welsh National Opera in Don Pasquale, which will run till the end of July. So that’s what inspired him to do something really special this time round. He will be backed by none other than the Big Band Brothers and will share the stage with up-and-coming singer Jasmine Abela. “It’s fantastic to have Jasmine on board. She’s a wonderful singer and I have no doubt the audience will love her,” the tenor enthuses.

It’s exciting to think that we will be bringing a venue like this to life in such a manner, and to see it transform over the course of the concert

Darmanin and his producer Toni Attard have put together a truly incredible musical set for the evening – one that will take audiences on a journey back in time to the era of Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. The fabulous programme will include chart-topping hits such as Beyond the Sea, Moon River, My Way, Summertime, What a Wonderful World and, of course, Unforgettable.

“I was thrilled when Nico approached me to be part of the show,” Abela says. “This type of music is a joy to perform and absolutely perfect for the time of year.”

Although only 20 years old, Abela already has a career to be proud of. Her highlights include being part of Ultimate Artists in London for the past three years, as well as having sung in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest twice and performed for the Queen as part of the CHOGM celebrations, which is actually where she met Darmanin for the first time.

“I started singing when I was very little,” Abela says. “And soon realised that that was what made me feel alive and happy. So I started to take it more seriously and have trained consistently ever since.”

Now, Abela is excited to be performing a new repertoire in a new venue – the striking Gran Salon of the Archaeological Museum in Valletta.

“What a place!” she smiles. “It’s romantic in itself, so that works very well. Plus, there’s a lot of history to be enjoyed in the songs we’ll be singing, so that pairs beautifully with the setting. It’s exciting to think that we will be bringing a venue like this to life in such a manner, and to see it transform over the course of the concert.”

Darmanin, meanwhile, also looks forward to how the audience will react as each song is played. “I think that the Golden Oldie singers and the music of that time – swing and jazz – were so special. There’s something about these songs that just touches you; they make you dream and, when you hear them, you feel part of that incredible era of romance. Everyone, of all ages, will feel something when they hear this music,” he adds. 

Unforgettable – A Concert by Nico Darmanin will take place on February 14, 15 and 16 at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. Tickets may be purchased online.


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