As if Teatru Manoel wasn’t already the historical gem in a culture-filled Valletta it already was, the centuries-old theatre has recently acquired some rare and valuable musical instruments left by the late musician instrument builder Dr. George Debono.
The instruments are replicas from the Baroque era, a time defined by its highly ornate and often extravagant style of music and art from the early 17th until the mid-18th century.
Perhaps the most prized possession is an 1888 straight strung Broadwood piano, which had undergone restorations funded by the Friends of the Manoel.
Other instruments acquired were two Viola de Gambas; a bowed string instrument similar to that of a cello, a baroque cello; typically larger than a standard cello, and two clavichords; a rectangular stringed keyboard instrument largely used in the Late Middle Ages.
“As part of our strategy to further promote culture and the arts, Teatru Manoel has put a lot of effort into putting baroque in the foreground of the island’s cultural activity throughout the year, not only in Valletta, but also around the island,” said Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici.
“The upkeep and storage of such instruments is yet another example of this. Moreover, not only are we enriching our cultural calendar, but thanks to our extensive culture sector, we can further make it more accessible through such initiatives.”
The Broadwood piano will be the first of the acquired instruments to feature in a Teatru Manoel Concert on Wednesday 13th November at 8pm, brought to life with a Mozart Concert by Ensemble DeNote. The concert is supported by the Friends of the Manoel and held in memory of the beloved Dr George Debono.
“The late Dr Debono, my uncle George, was always highly technical and it was his love for baroque music, Bach in particular, that eventually inspired him to become what is known as a luthier. When, in 2012, the theatre launched the baroque festival he became the Doctor on Call … for damaged instruments, ” said Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Artistic Director for Teatru Manoel and Valletta International Baroque Festival.