The Government Might Install A Retractable Roof Over Valletta's Open-Air Theatre

The site has become a nuisance for locals and is being under-utilised by artists


Cover photo: Alcuin TK Lai

The government is mulling over the idea of installing a retractable roof onto the Royal Opera House (Pjazza Teatru Rjal) just a few years after architect Renzo Piano controversially designed the open-air theatre to be included in the new entrance to Valletta, the Times of Malta has reported.

Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici has announced that a decision to include some form of roofing to the Royal Opera House would be coming over the next few days, saying that whatever decision was made would be in sympathy with Renzo Piano's plans.

“This discussion process will be initiated, we will listen to the public and experts, and we will take a decision which respects its surroundings whilst not ignoring requests for a solution," he said.

The decision to build a roof for the roofless Opera House is being considered due to the impact the open-air performance space is having on local residents, with the Culture minister saying he receives daily complaints, including from the elderly and the sick, about the music and the noice coming from the performance space. 

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The Royal Opera House with a temporary roof in 2014

Adding to this, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also said that the current design is limiting artists from utilising the Royal Opera House fully. It is hoped that a roof could address these issues.

However, there could be difficulties in building a roof after the fact, especially in a way that is in sympathy with the surroundings and would blend in well with the city's aesthetics. 

The open-air theatre had a rocky reception from the start. Back in 2010, 128 Maltese artists had submitted a petition criticising the idea of turning the famous Royal Opera House space into a roofless theatre. 

Though the government went ahead with Renzo Piano's plans, Joseph Muscat himself had brought up the idea of installing a roof just last year during the election campaign. 

"My information is that the roof wasn't built because the previous administration did not have funds for it. We are looking at the vaults underground - we will see if it's culturally and environmentally possible," Joseph Muscat had said in 2017.

Do you think they should install a retractable roof? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written By

Johnathan Cilia

Johnathan is interested in the weird, dark, and wonderful contradictions our late-capitalist society forces upon us. He also likes music and food. Contact him at [email protected]