The phantom of the Royal Opera House will haunt the Valletta site, where it lies in ruins, during a magical night when the majestic building will once again be visible for a few precious minutes.

Lights and laser beams will project a three-dimensional, lifesize image of the Opera House that will become visible as a ghostly mist is blown over the area. To add to the magic of this night the event will be taking place on February 29 - a day that only leaps into calendars every four years.

"The idea is to create magic. We are creating a time machine that allows people present to experience the phantom of the opera. All this is possible through Nexos Technology, our partners in this event," explained Jean Paul Mifsud, the chairman of YMCA Homeless - the non-profit organisation organising the event with the help of several other volunteers.

On the night, the image of the old Opera House, that was built in 1866 and bombed in 1942, will come to life, accompanied by music and will remain visible for about 10 minutes. Freedom Square will be transformed into a sort of 'Valletta city-museum' where images of the capital across the eras will be projected and there will be entertainment throughout the evening.

Mr Mifsud explained that this event, aptly named 'The Phantom of the Opera', is part of a bigger initiative - the YMCA Old Valletta Project - through which three dimensional detailed models of Valletta across the centuries will be created and made available to the public through an interactive website and DVD.

Browsers will be able to travel through time, from their computer screens, by clicking on a specific period. They will then be able to go on a virtual walk through of the city in that period. "We will be creating three dimensional models of Valletta - from street level up and down - across the years. The idea is to have layers of maps in different periods and people can pick an era and see what Valletta looked like then," he said.

For the past nine months a dedicated team has been working on the project. The detailed 3D models of Valletta, that are in the process of being put together, are all to scale and based on extensive research through hundreds of old paintings, plans and photographs of the capital made available to the Old Valletta Project from public and private collections, he said.

All the money collected through the site and from the sale of DVDs will be in aid of the YMCA Homeless Shelter - Dar Niki Cassar. Anyone who wishes to be part of this experience as a sponsor or wants to be involved in the project, or who has material to contribute to the Website can send an e-mail to or call YMCA on 2122 8035.

The Royal Opera House was built in 1866. In 1873, its interior was extensively damaged when a fire broke out but it was eventually restored by 1877. The theatre, Valletta's most imposing landmark, was destroyed during an air raid in 1942. Today it remains in ruins and, while in the past it was used as a car park, in the more recent years it has served as a venue for performing arts. The site, and issues surrounding its restoration, have also been a source of political controversy.

Catch a sneak preview of this project on the downloads section at .

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