Photo (left): Eftichis Gryfakis / Facebook
Photo (right): John Dayney / Facebook
Our fair island of Gozo was the subject of an exposé in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. The focus: the ongoing rivalry between two theatres in Victoria, and their continuing one-upmanship against each others’ productions over many years.
In short – Gozo is home to some serious opera wars.
The two theatres are named Astra and Aurora – you’d be forgiven for thinking them leads in a Shakespearean tragedy. They’re not far off – both beautiful and both fiercely loved. Each theatre traces its foundation to 1863, and since have been engaged in this battle of “opera and saints,” as Matthew Sultana, an Aurora Theater organiser, describes it.
They’ve competed with each other most deviously – putting on the exact same operas in unison, challenging each other to basically – bring it. And it seems like it works wonders for ticket sales, which apparently go for up to €100.
In the 70s, the rivalry grew so hot that a violent show of bottle-throwing took place. Gozo had bred its own version of musical-theatre-motivated hooliganism. Families were divided, houses were split. All very dramatic…
But the show does go on. This year, Carmen was played at the Aurora, whilst the Astra theatre played Aidia. Operagoers and performers come from across Europe to be a part of Gozo’s ultimate opera pas de duex.
As for joining forces and burying the hatchet – doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. But that’s fine, nothing better than a bit of healthy competition. But remember – play safe kids.