WATCH: The Story Of The Manoel Theatre, Valletta's 287-Year-Old Crown Jewel

The capital's beloved theatre will kick 2019 off in style thanks to the return of the Valletta International Baroque Festival

Malta's capital is one of those cities that's brimming with glorious highlights. Valletta doesn't have lots of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is one itself. And at the heart of it all lies the gorgeous, nearly 300-year-old theatre that is the Manoel.

Built by Grand Master Antonio Manuel de Vilhena as his personal playhouse, Teatru Manoel was finished in 1731, after being built in 10 months, it opened its doors to the public on the 19th of January 1732 with its first performance called MEROPE. The theatre was built on the model of Palermo's Teatro Santa Cecilia. However, as a sign on the front still boasts, Teatru Manoel also served as a home "for the honest recreation of the People".

The first iteration of the theatre looked quite different from the one many locals and tourists know and love. In fact, everything from the audience boxes to the benches was originally made of stone, acting as a slightly colder background to countless beautiful masked balls and famous operas.

Teatru Manoel has had a long and turbulent history. For seven years in the late 1800s, in fact, it actually fell into total disuse, eventually housing the city's homeless.

When the British arrived on the islands, they brought with them a completely new perspective. The interior of the theatre was absolutely renovated, replacing the stone of the previous centuries with wood. An aisle and two side passages were also added, and by the 1920s, the theatre was being used as a cinema instead.

Teatru Manoel officially reopened as a theatre in the 1960s, but the renovations did not stop here. Amongst many renovations, by the mid ‘90s, a hydraulic orchestra pit platform was added, 2017 saw the introduction of an innovative climate control system under the whole auditorium regulating the temperature and humidity inside the theatre and the new seating plan was introduced in 2018.

Nearly three centuries later, Teatru Manoel is still offering some amazing cultural events in its annual programme.

Kicking off 2019 in style, Teatru Manoel will be bringing back the fabulous Valletta International Baroque Festival, which will be making its grand return to the Manoel for the seventh consecutive year.

With 36 performances over 18 different locations, the Valletta International Baroque Festival will feature Malta's very own superstar Claire Debono.

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Written By

David Grech Urpani

Sarcastically ironic, Dave is a recovering hipster musician with a penchant for chicken, women's clothes and Kanye.