Three simple thoughts have led us to propose the use the opera site for outdoor performances:
First, the site is too small to contain a Parliament Building as was initially envisaged. Secondly, a modern opera, of conventional size, would equally not fit in this place considering today’s requirements for rehearsal, back stage facilities and accessibility, besides generating exorbitant running costs. Thirdly, we strongly believe, that after more than 60 years of controversy, the Ruins of the demolished opera have undeniably reached the status of monument, irrevocable witness of history and the dignity of collective memory.
This is why we strongly believe that the opera Ruin should not be eradicated but should serve as the framework for a place where artistic performances will be an evocation, in a contemporary way, of the activity of the past. Complementing the activity of the Manoel Theatre and the Mediterranean Conference Centre, this third, very special place will lead to the creation of an extraordinary combination of performance spaces in Valletta.
The project envisages the preservation of all the existing stone work and the reuse some of the still existing scattered fragments to complete and embellish the ruin. A new, very light skin or façade will define the space, supported by a surrounding alignment of steel masts and columns. These will carry removable walls, lighting systems, acoustic and sound equipment, and shall give the space its specific identity during the staging of performances. When the theatre is unused, the place works as an open piazza with a shallow stepped seating deck, totally accessible and offering the view towards Castille, to the Churches of Santa Catarina and Our Lady of Victories and Saint James Cavalier. The translucent wall elements – why not in alabaster - shall be constructed in such a way, that they can enclose the space, but also remain sunken, so that performances can be held in the most extraordinary scenery of some of the city’s best buildings. This “open air opera”, if correctly equipped with the adequate systems of modern communication, light projection and controlled, directive electro -acoustic sound systems, will be very rare in the Mediterranean world and offer to many art groups an outstanding place to perform.
This concept, away from the traditional opera circuit can be envisaged with much smaller backstage areas, for which there is not enough space available and offer therefore a capacity for an audience of about 1000 spectators.