The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Top-notch cast for Gaulitana’s ‘La Traviata’

Sunday, 5 March 2023, 09:25 Last update: about 10 months ago

The return to live opera in Gaulitana: A Festival of Music will be marked in grand style. The title chosen, Verdi's La Traviata, an all-time favourite with the general public, is complemented by a cast featuring three top names in the operatic world.

The title role will present soprano Ekaterina Bakanova, the "mesmerising" artist who shot to stardom as "a stunning Violetta" after her spectacular last-minute Traviata debut in Covent Garden in July 2015. Her spellbinding "scintillating vocal power brought the house down" as "she made Violetta seem as if she was being created for the first time" (The Guardian). Since then, she has returned several times to Covent Garden and appeared on the most prestigious European stages including Verona's Arena and Barcelona's Teatro Liceo, where she performed under first-rate conductors among whom Fabio Luisi, Mung Whung Chung and Nello Santi, in productions of famous staging directors such as Franco Zeffirelli and Hugo de Ana.


The role of Violetta's lover, Alfredo, will be interpreted by Francesco Meli, one of the most sought-after tenors worldwide. Renowned for his Verdian roles, he has been billed "as probably the best Alfredo in terms of timbre and vocal expression", with OperaClick defining him as an "authentic number one" for his Alfredo performance at La Scala. Meli had made his debut at the Milanese opera house at the age of just 23 under Riccardo Muti, a venue he himself considers "more a second home than a place of work". Meli has sung leading roles on all the world's glorious stages, from the Metropolitan to Covent Garden and Vienna's Staatsoper, under the world's most eminent conductors including Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Chailly, Antonio Pappano and Gustavo Dudamel. Gaulitana's Traviata falls between his performances as Alfredo Florence's Maggio Musicale and the Zeffirelli production at Verona's Arena.

The trio of principal singers is completed by highly-acclaimed Verdian baritone Piero Terranova. As Giorgio Germont, his interpretations have been praised as "monumental" and his characterisation as "amazing" as "confirmed by the thunderous applause" (Corriere dello Spettacolo). Having performed extensively in all major Italian opera houses, from La Scala to La Fenice, San Carlo, Bellini and the Massimo as well as having graced several important European stages like Berlin's Deutsche Oper and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, he is the only singer so far to have appeared in an opera put on by Gozo's three opera producers, most recently as the "imposing, authoritative" Amonasro in Aurora's Aida last October.

La Traviata highlights the 16th edition of Gaulitana: A Festival of Music, which is running throughout April. The production will be under the baton of Gaulitana artistic director Colin Attard and the stage direction of Enrico Castiglione - a tandem which has been at the helm of all the festival's operatic productions presented so far. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gaulitanus Choir will also feature.

La Traviata will be held on Saturday, 26 April at 7.30pm at Teatru tal-Opra Aurora under the distinguished patronage of H. E. George Vella, President of Malta.

Gaulitana: A Festival of Music, organised by the Gaulitanus Choir, is principally supported by the Investment in Cultural Organisations - Gozo of Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for Gozo.

Online booking is available on: or via the ticket helpline 7904 5779

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