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the first ever Maltese opera film production

 by Nataša Pantović

Even though an opera is a theatrical form expressed within the theatre environment for centuries, the opera film is a rather new form of art. Until recently, the opera's composer would be passing his instructions to the cast. There was only one Carmen, or one Magic Flute. However, not that long ago, the stage director became increasingly important. With the introduction of an Opera Film, the opera world has become an increasingly complex art form.

Blat – The Island Fortress Film Trailer

To enjoy it, the audience must recognize opera as a multidimensional art performed by singers not actors. The director must remain true to the work, to the composer and the musical language used. This is a three-dimensional art not attempted by many.

Directing an opera film, the director must show the full appreciation for the talents, principal singers, dancers, chorus and stay true to the visuals. We find that not only the stories, but the music and the very form itself has to be reinvented.

BLAT: The Island Fortress was the project by the Mikiel Anton Vassalli as the executive producer.

Blat an Island Fortress

Blat an Island Fortress

The opera-film was composed by Dr Reuben Pace with lyrics written by Gorg Peresso and Amy Borg. The film was written and directed by Alan Fenech.

Opera films are the most difficult genre to engage in. A first ever opera in Maltese, Blat: The Island Fortress, was a brave endeavour. New stages in artistic development lead to new dynamics, and critics should understand the new challenges that the operatic theatre has created. An authentic opera with its own music, script and staging, in which each stage of the process has been carefully performed always brings unique challenges. New stage interpretations of classical operas were perceived by many as a breath of fresh air.

blat-opera-film malta

Blat Opera Film Malta

In this new situation, the director takes precedence, not only in the stage presentation of the operatic score, but also in the development of opera as an art form and, finally, in the communication with the audience.

It is March 1940, Madeleine (Nicola Said), who is from Valletta who falls in love with Mussolini sympathiser Marco (Angelo Muscat), the pair unable to live their forbidden love.

Most of Europe is embroiled in the war and it soon hits the islands when all are forced to take cover in the underground shelters.

Textures and balance between orchestra and singers were excellent. There’s a first-rate supporting cast – a diverse one, too. The final moments with the mighty chorus singing straight at us from Valletta city bastions that have their own unique charm and spatial qualities. These were skilfully deployed by the production director. Sopranos and mezzos of the Opera Chorus with voices floated down as if from Heaven.

Umberto Buttigieg and Ken Scicluna were in charge of the costume designs and production, Marco Bartolo had assembled the opera-film and Althea Palombi Corlett was in charge of the choreography. Rodney Gauci was the director of photography. Nicola Said, Angelo Muscat, Astrid Cacciatore, Louis Cassar, Claire Ghigo, Charles Vincenti and Ken Scicluna were the main actors. BLAT is a Professional production, produced by soloists, musicians and Professional artists. The college students were also involved in the process

BLAT Natasa Pantovic Ema Pantovic Maltese Film opera 2022

BLAT Natasa Pantovic with Ema Pantovic Maltese Film opera 2022

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