The Malta Independent 4 June 2020, Thursday

Grande Serata Italiana

Tuesday, 16 July 2019, 09:26 Last update: about 12 months ago

A recital of classical arias and Neapolitan songs by the St Paul Chamber Ens

Dr Lydia Buttigieg

On Friday, 21 June, at MonteKristo Estate, the St Paul Chamber Ensemble presented a high-calibre performance which featured some popular classical arias and Neapolitan songs, with a repertoire that is not only audience-engaging but also specifically chosen to push the orchestra's technical capacities to higher levels.

Under the professional baton of Mro Mark Agius, the 45-piece orchestra performed a number of classical, instrumental works, while also accompanying well-established local singers, among them Karen Gatt Darmenia and Frances Catherine Farrugia (sopranos), Joseph Aquilina (tenor), and Ivan Vella (baritone). Some of the works performed will be accompanied by the resident concert choir Anacrusis.


The concert opened with an instrumental interlude Intermezzo dalla Cavalleria Rusticana written by Mascagni, considered one of the classic verismo operas. The orchestra presented the piece with well controlled dynamics and very expressive in nature. This was followed by Santa Lucia by Teodoro Cottrau, a Neapolitan song sung by tenor Aquilina and baritone Vella. Another instrumental piece Nella Fantasia composed by the Italian composer Ennio Morricone was executed with great sensitiveness and sentiment.

Half way through the first half of the programme, soprano Gatt Darmenia took the stage to sing O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's opera, Gianni Schicchi sung with well controlled voice and emotion. The much-loved Neapolitan song O Sole Mio was sung with ease and confidence by tenor Aquilina. The infamous Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti by Rossini was well executed with buoyancy by sopranos Gatt Darmenia and Farrugia. An instrumental piece by Morricone was taken from the main theme La Califfa, delicately performed with subtlety. The final two works were lively pieces, Voi che Sapete by Mozart, sung with assurance by soprano Gatt Darmenia and the Brindisi from the opera La Traviata, sung by tenor Aquilina and soprano Farrugia.

Before the second half of the programme resumed, continuing with its vocal and instrumental pieces, there was a small raffle with proceeds going towards HopeXchange Medical Centre and a short speech by Nikol Baldacchino from the Ghana Mission Foundation.

Two pieces composed by Puccini opened the second half of the programme. Nessun Dorma by Puccini, with tenor Aquilina and the concert choir Anacrusis, Vissi d'Arte with soprano Farrugia, both well executed with great sonority and emotional depth. On a lighter tone, soprano Gatt Darmenia and baritone Vella sung La Ci Darem la Mano. The final two works were well known Neapolitan songs Non Ti Scordar di Me and Funiculi-Funiculá sung with ease by soprano Farrugia and tenor Aquilina respectively.  

The concert came to an end were it presented as an encore Va Pensiero from Nabucco by Puccini, sung by the resident Anacrusis concert choir.

The orchestra's next concert will be on Tuesday, 10 September at the Garden of Serenity, St Lucija


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