January 12th - 28th, 2017
From our first experimental edition in 2013 we are now about to experience the fifth edition
of the Valletta International Baroque Festival taking place from 12th to 28th January 2017.
The Festival, produced and managed by Teatru Manoel, Malta’s national theatre, has placed
Malta firmly on the global cultural calendar.
A baroque music festival in a quintessentially baroque city which after years of neglect is coming into its own is logically a great attraction. The experience of listening to a Bach religious work in a cathedral that is the undisputed wonder of the Mediterranean is inimitable as will be the performance of Stradella’s Oratorio about the Life of the Baptist performed in the Oratory of St John’s under the most iconic Caravaggio ever painted. The fact that we have a fully functional baroque theatre dating back to 1731, give or take some very sympathetic British interpolations is a huge asset. Many theatres in Europe of the Manoel’s size, ambience and vintage are treated as museums; The Manoel has a fully developed cultural calendar of relatively epic proportions.
One highlight of the coming Festival will undoubtedly be the leading French Ensemble called Correspondances performing Charpentier’s celebrated Te Deum at St John’s Co Cathedral on the 13th of January on the occasion of Malta’s EU presidency. The opening bars of the Te Deum happen to be the Eurovision anthem which we have been familiar with for many decades. The Charpentier is coupled with Henri Du Mont’s Royal Motets for the Chapel at Versailles the only complete set of which are to be found at the Cathedral Museum Mdina proving that Malta was a cultural hub even then.
As well as the above events we also have, once again, a galaxy of baroque stars lined up; Simone Kermes and Vivica Genaux in a dramatic programme entitled The Rival Queens, the celebrated ‘Sixteen’ in deeply spiritual mode, the Centre Musique Baroque de Versailles in a ‘parodie’ of Lully’s Atys performed by life-size marionettes…a great sequel to Rameau’s Hypolite et Aricie in 2014, the European Union Baroque Orchestra in a concert of Bach Leipzig Festival Cantatas, Concerto dei Cavalieri from Rome and a host of others playing an eclectic selection of magnificent baroque music for your delectation.
Local musicians like pianist Lucia Micallef will be joining French virtuoso violinist Nicolas Dautricourt in an interesting programme called Bach and the Russians while pianist Charlene Farrugia will be performing Chorales in Counterpoint with Calabrian pianist Nazareno Ferruggio. Japanese Viola da Gambist Reiko Ichise performing Carl Freidrich Abel Suites for solo gamba; a virtual anthology of linear poetry that rival Bach’s great suites for solo cello. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Micelle Castelletti will play 20th Century baroque inspired pieces plus a commissioned work from Maltese composer Reuben Pace. Finally we have the celebrated Maltese soprano Claire Debono in a beautiful Purcell programme performing with Ensemble Les Ambassadeurs. Incidentally, Claire will also be taking on the role of Susanna in the Manoel’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro next March.