Print this page

The Manoel Theatre – Grand setting for Events and Meetings

This month sees the end of the fourth edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival which comprised of 25 events in nine venues around Valletta, Malta's UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital city. Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Artistic Director of the Manoel Theatre proudly stated that “The Baroque Festival this year was a literal galaxy of stars; Mahan Esfahan, Philippe Herreweghe and Jordi Savall to mention just three. Since its inception in 2013 it has leapfrogged from strength to strength attracting an international audience happy to spend a week or two in the inimitable atmosphere of Valletta, our tiny capital city”.

This festival, like the previous ones, incorporated an eclectic variety of music including piano transcriptions and 20th Century orchestral music inspired by the baroque idiom. Two requiems; one by Bonaventura Rubino and the other by Niccolo Jommelli have strong Maltese connections as the manuscript of the first was found in the Cathedral Museum Archive while that of the Neapolitan Jommelli incorporates responses by Maltese composers that have been researched by Ghislieri Musica in the same archive.

Two weeks of gorgeous music that elicit visions of periwigged grandmasters, swashbuckling knights and ladies in the latest fashions from Naples and Palermo plying the gridiron streets of Valletta in calluses and sedan chairs dodging traders from the East, water sellers, herds of goats and sellers of “karawett” in a harmonious cacophony of sound.

For two weeks the tinkle of the harpsichord, the reverberations of a theory and the sonorities of the viola da gamba conjured up the unique atmosphere of Valletta’s Age of Elegance.

You do not have to wait for the Baroque Festival to visit the Manoel theatre as there are daily tours which include the use of handheld audio guides in different languages. Group tours can be booked in advance through 20twenty.

The chairman of the Manoel theatre, Dr Michael Grech says that, “The theatre is in effect, Malta’s national theatre but is also a national monument of incalculable worth” and we cannot but fully agree. The Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici Minister of Justice further underscored the point: “The Manoel Theatre was named as one of the most spectacular theatres in the world by CNN in May 2014, the Manoel is also one of the oldest ‘working’ theatres in the world and is Malta’s national theatre”.

A little known fact is that within the complex of this theatre, entering through the stage door are two self-catering apartments. These modernly furnished apartments are on the second floor and each has a spacious sitting room with fully equipped kitchen, TV, telephone and two day-beds. The main bedroom and bathroom are on the 2nd tier on each apartment.

“We at 20 twenty can take care of all the arrangements and activities in order to make your Valletta stay a truly destination immersion experience” ….suggests Ivan Mifsud, managing director of one of Malta’s most creative MICE & event agencies that often use the Manoel theatre for events.

On 15 October 2012, the former MV Deutschland, which was the only cruise ship still flying the German maritime flag, called in Valletta for what was probably the highlight of the “classical music cruise”. The Manoel Theatre was booked a year in advance in order for world renowned maestro & conductor Justus Frantz to entertain more than 400 German speaking guests as well as local classical music lovers. That event managed to attract and captivate the German Ambassador H.E. Dr. Herbert Ziegler, Russian Ambassador H.E. Boris Marchuk, American Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and the Irish Ambassador. The concert which was supposed to last exactly one hour ended after two hours as guests were enthralled by one performance after the other and kept calling for encores.  The 20twenty team was on the ground to coordinate every little detail including liaising with the Valletta Police so that guests could walk to the Manoel Theatre safely from the Auberge de Baviere.

Only last year, 20twenty planned and coordinated a 30-minute seated presentation for around 380 global press conference delegates invited to Malta by Messe Berlin (trade shows, exhibitions & conventions). Guests were welcomed by the theatre’s artistic director Mr Kenneth Zammit Tabona who gave a very humorous overview of the theatre’s lively history. The mayor of Valletta, Professor Alexiei Dingli then gave a very interesting presentation on Valletta and various cultural projects undertaken by the Local Council and Mr Jason Micallef, Chairman of V18 gave an inspiring talk about some of the exciting events that are being organised in the run-up to, and in 2018 when Valletta is European Capital of Culture.

For Meetings and Conferences, the auditorium of the Manoel theatre is an ideal alternative venue for a conference, meeting or special performance. The stalls seats 270 and the whole auditorium 575. The backstage complex at 81, Old Mint Street includes the studio theatre which is ideal for small productions, recitals, meetings or conferences. Capacity is 80 seated. There is also an adjoining roof terrace which is ideal for breaks as well as rehearsal rooms which can be used for breakout sessions.

Ivan Mifsud M.A. (Oxon.)
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 00:00