Studies in Maltese Architecture Essay

Surveies in Maltese Architecture

The Manoel Theatre Manoel Theatre, or as normally referred to in the Maltese linguistic communication, ‘Teatru Manoel ‘ , is one of the most of import and important memorials shacking in Malta since it a really old theater amongst the other few in all of Europe. This Theatre stretches back to the eighteenth century when it was inaugurated in January of 1732 in the bosom of Valletta, which means it has survived a long period of histories and now it holds within it a heritage which is unreplaceable and alone.

Dating back to the early old ages of the eighteenth century, the Grandmaster of the Order of Malta at that clip was Grandmaster Antonio Manoel de Vilhena. As a swayer, he planned and constructed assorted military and civil edifices, such as the garrison in Marsamxett known as Fort Manoel. Fortunately, at that clip, the Grandmaster started to admit theatrical public presentations by the Italian knights of the Order of St. John ( in their hostel ) , every bit good as a Maltese group that used to play comedies and musical amusement, ( in the same hostel ) some of which were rather successful. Therefore Grandmaster Antonio Manoel de Vilhena set up a foundation (Fondazione Manoel) which decided to buy two houses in Strada del Carmine, now known as ‘Triq it-Teatru l-Antik ‘ , at the cost of 2,186scudiso that a new theater could be built at this location.

Francois Mondion is said to hold been one of the senior designers employed by Grandmaster Vilhena, that designed and built the new theater, but there is still doubt and uncertainness regarding who the existent designer of the theater was. On the 16th of March 1731, work started on site which was of an country of 94.5 square canes, which was a Maltese unit of measuring used at that clip and consequences to about 414 m? . Since many old ages have passed since the twenty-four hours it was built, the aesthetics, frontage and form are without any uncertainty different from what had been originally constructed in 1732. However, it can still be pointed out that there is a great chance that it might hold been influenced by two theaters in Palermo at that clip. Besides, it is clear that the original form of the auditorium was in the signifier of a U, being described ( by De Lucca and Tonna ) as somewhat retrograde for its clip, with the phase being projected by two consecutive sides.

The modern-day papers Cabreo Vilhena describes the interior portion of the theater as it was formatted originally, holding a sum of 39 boxes and a cavity furnished with benches. The boxes were divided into three grades: the first grade being used by the grandmaster ‘s pages ; the 2nd grade was used by the grandmaster and his cortege ; and the 3rd grade was known as ‘the Gods ‘ where the seats are rather high and distant from the phase. A figure of appliances and machines used to do scenes even more Godhead and spectacular where found on the same degree of ‘the Gods ‘ grade.

The Manoel Theatre was and still is a theater which maps like many others with some of its parts being the wings and background, every bit good as “a shop room for the lamps that illuminated the auditorium“ . The wing is the country and portion of the phase which is used by the performing artist to fix to come in and is besides used as a storage infinite for set scenery and proficient equipment. Obviously, this portion of the theater is masked by legion long curtains for privateness. On the other manus, the background was the background to any scene of a phase set. Manoel Theatre besides had: the chief entryway ; the phase ; a little room for invitees (saletta) ; a corridor in the signifier of a U-shape ; and a basement found below the phase. As can be seen by the exposure of the original frontage of the theater below, two olympian pillars flanked the front door and supported the balcony above it. The whole Manoel Theatre was surprisingly finished and completed after a speedy 10 months.


At the early times of Manoel Theatre ‘s startup, the Baroque manner was booming and at its highest point in Europe. Architecture was non the lone of import factor during churrigueresque clip but other factors should be considered. Performing humanistic disciplines such as opera itself were going really of import during this clip and could be categorized into two parts:‘opera seria ‘and‘operabuffa ‘. This means that great public presentations and composings were expected to come with this new theater, besides with the reaching of celebrated composers.

The 19th of January 1732 marked an of import day of the month for the Manoel Theatre since the first public presentation was held on this day. ‘Merope ‘( as it was called ) depicted calamities of that century and was acted by the Italian knights of the Order themselves as a mark of regard and baronial work chosen for the startup of the theater. Following this public presentation, were two comedies traveling by the name of ‘Il Giocatore Disperato ‘and ‘Don Pilone ‘. Besides, other public presentations were held during this clip, largely comedies, but unluckily their names are unknown so non much information is available about them. It is of import to observe that from such early times the theater started to be used for other activities such as a locale for carnival balls. During the regulation of Vilhena, there are no more histories of theatrical composings and public presentations but we do hold the memoirs of Carlo Goldoni which do give us an thought of how it felt like to be in the Manoel Theatre.

Sequence to Vilhena ‘s regulation was Despuig who ne’er attended the theater for his ain grounds, but after him there was the powerful Grandmaster Manoel de Pinto Fonseca who was so in love with theater and public presentation humanistic disciplines that three yearss after he was elected he attended an opera at the theater. It is cardinal to retrieve that during the eighteenth century Manoel Theatre was one of the really few topographic points where the knights and certain types of people could be entertained. Priests were besides acute on keeping their ain public presentations and dramas, even though at these times they merely accepted work forces to go to their dramas. Grandmaster Pinto de Fonseca went to the theater for the last clip at the age of 92 demoing the great love and regard he had for this type of art.

Giovanni Artuffo presented and introduced legion operas by three different composers in the early 1750s. All of their plants were admired by the knights and the Maltese people ( less sophisticated but still enthusiastic about the opera itself ) . Just one or really few non-operatic plants were performed during this period. It is besides noteworthy that the old ages 1768-70 a adult female was given the impresa which happens really seldom, in fact she was the lone adult female to be given such power during that century. Besides, a few old ages subsequently Natale Marini made a program and theoretical account of the theater ‘s interior and phase since the theater was under uninterrupted wear but there is no record demoing renewing work. This century marks the debut of a immature endowment Nicolo Isuoard who was set to go one of Paris ‘ most popular composers of amusing opera subsequently on. 1796 the Gallic arrived and took over Malta, and Napoleon expelled the Order of St. John from Malta in 1798, so the theater had been leased to four individuals. The invasion of the French caused some immediate jobs since the Italian vocalists and instrumentalists organizing portion of the opera of Manoel Theatre were obliged to remain in Malta, so they wanted an addition in their pay. The monetary values and rewards which were making the jobs were shortly fixed and taken attention of. In September 1798, Nicolo Isouard was appointed commissioner for theatre whilst Pietro Paolo Muscat became the exclusive showman as he bought all the portions. During this period, Manoel Theatre was confronting a batch of jobs and was at a clip of crisis, with the attending at the theater most likely worsening since the vocalists were non being changed and the fort started to lose involvement. With all these debatable state of affairss, Isouard was kept busy most of the clip seeking to happen a solution to better the state of affairs.

In 1799 the theater got involuntarily involved in a atrocious episode in Maltese history when the Maltese were be aftering to assail and scupper the Gallic within the walls of Valletta itself. Manoel Theatre got involved in the narrative because Vaubois ordered Isouard to set on a show on a Friday ( a twenty-four hours when no operas or comedies were of all time performed ) to move as a distraction for the Gallic. However, the program was discovered and several plotters were executed in the square in forepart of the Magisterial Palace. By the early 1800s, the Italian company had had plenty and did non desire to execute any longer, and so the theater was forced to shut with the going of the Italians from Valletta. Manoel Theatre was so reopened and a important event occurred when it was decided that a Maltese play group was to execute on a regular basis inside the theater. This was rather a important measure in Maltese history. In 1800, the Gallic were driven to a point where they could non shack in Malta any longer, ( with the aid of the British ) so they decided to go forth, taking with them Nicolo Isuardo who was regarded as a treasonist and ne’er to return to Malta.

After helping to throw out the Gallic, the British found themselves crowned head of the Maltese Islands. Unfortunately, during the going of the Gallic and the early 1801, no public presentations seem to hold taken topographic point inside Theatre Manoel but at least it was surely used for the organisation of balls since Aeneas Anderson tells us that he attended a public ball at the Opera House during this period. Italian opera is reintroduced one time once more and the public presentations are described as great amusement with merely a few little jobs. Besides the fact that non everyone could come in the theater or take his topographic point was acquiring on some people ‘s nervousnesss.

In 1812, George Whitmore of the Royal Engineers was “ to reconstruct the edifice exhaustively, to increase the figure of boxes… and to adorn the full edifice in a modern, simple and elegant manner ” . Oakes and Whitmore had a big influence on the aesthetics of the theater as it is nowadays since they did hole and alteration rather a batch of parts. In fact, the tallness of the edifice was raised higher with a new roof being built, the floor of the cavity was re-laid, the brackets were removed and the boxes were opened up for better visibleness, and a 4th grade was added. Besides, the dressing suites for performing artists was increased and the phase enlarged. This resulted in the auditorium holding an egg-shaped form, which is still present with that same form presents.

The British made sure to re-introduce theprotettore, which was occupied by a citizen of high standing, and the besides reintroduced the system of naming an showman, with the first showmans being three. Showmans had rather a hazardous concern with the hazard of hardly doing any money since they had provide amusement and public presentations all the clip throughout the whole twelvemonth. These apart from holding to pay the rent, had to engage vocalists and terpsichoreans to come to Malta which could take to economical battles. In fact, during 1817-18 the fundss for Manoel Theatre were so bad that both the rent and the admittance monetary values were reduced.

The immature British officers, as were the knights, needed to utilize the free clip they had, so for some of them theatre was their interest. We do hold histories of information about legion dramas in English which were held at the Manuel Theatre such as the celebrated workThe Clandestine Marriageby Colman and Garrick. The nineteenth century besides marks another of import milepost in native Maltese play because dramas started to be performed in Maltese linguistic communication as described by the British officer Anderson. The first full length drama was called ‘Caterina, ix-Xbejba tal-Irdum ‘ . Opera, on the other manus, was deemed as more of import during the British regulation, it was the reigning genre. The figure of new operas to be performed per twelvemonth settled at four and bothopera seriaandopera buffaperformed in the early decennaries. A figure of vocalists were so loved and respected a batch by the audience as were Camilla Darbois and Lorenzo Del Riccio amongst some others, to the point that they ended up settling in Malta ( as they were foreign ) . One should besides retrieve that during their reign, Manoel theater was used for a figure of great occasions as was done for the return of Governor Sir Thomas Maitland.

Subsequently along the nineteenth century, Manoel Theatre had become such a load on the authorities because of showmans and the fact that the theater was now an aged edifice with excessively many fixs to be done, it was agreed that a new opera house ( The Royal Opera house ) was to be built. This led to the Manoel Theatre falling into private custodies when Anacleto Conti decided to purchase Mifsud ‘s half portion and go the exclusive proprietor. By 1866 the Royal Opera House was ready to be used and Manoel Theatre ready to be abandoned for good. Manoel Theatre was besides stripped from its rubric ( Theatre Royal ) and named after the Grandmaster Antonio Manoel de Vilhena. Between 1866 and 1873, Manoel Theatre had its ruin, it was hardly used and when used merely for dramas by Maltese amateurs. Since it was hardly used, no care, fixs or renovating were done and it continued to deteriorate.

In 1873, a calamity occurred in Valletta when the Royal Opera House was unluckily destroyed and beyond fix. At least from this calamity, Malta regained back a forgotten treasure, that is the Manoel Theatre. Since operas and dramas urgently needed a moderately good topographic point to be performed, what better pick was at that place than the Manoel Theatre? Conti ( the proprietor of the theater ) could non believe his fortune when his theater started to be used and after some clip besides repaired. What really did salvage the theater from traveling downhill for good was the new genre of theater, called ‘operetta ‘ . Since Manoel Theatre had long been unused as a proper theater, its proprietors had to do a figure of efforts at re-establishing it as an opera house. Fortunately, they managed to set up the theater for a figure of seasons and the plants started to increase, accordingly taking to a successful and positive season.

In 1882, Arpa decided to buy the Manoel Theatre from Conti and after some clip realized that something had to be done to vie with the Rjal, so many fixs and redecorations were undertaken. On a positive note, Manoel Theatre had some really successful seasons at the terminal of the 1880s, one of the most of import dramas being‘Birichino Al Teatro‘ . After some old ages, Arpa could non pay back the financess he borrowed from G. Gollcher, and so Gollcher decided to take legal actions and purchase the theater himself. The Gollchers did do some few changes and redecorations for the better since they managed the theater themselves for several more old ages.

The MADC, which is a popular play group that formed in 1910 with the amalgamation of two groups of play, used to execute a batch in Manoel Theatre and inspired many other groups. In the twentieth century,‘Romanticismo ‘was repeated a figure of times in the theater and after some clip Manoel Theatre besides became a film but unrecorded theater was non banished. The Second World War did somewhat decelerate down Manoel Theatre, but surprisingly composings were still being shown and people were still go toing the theater to be entertained.

The Maltese Government, at that clip Malta Labour Party, decided to purchase back Manoel Theatre so as to continue it and its historical heritage. When the theater was acquired, Vera Lindsay and Richard Southmen were commissioned to give recommendations on the resurgence of the Manoel Theatre. Numerous sum of alterations and changes had to be done so refurbishment started instantly. In 1960 the first Manoel Theatre direction commission was set up and they had to do certain that the gap would be a genuinely great one. Fortunately, the gap was a successful event.

Presents, Manoel Theatre has continued to populate up to its outlooks and better since it continues to expose many theatrical productions and public presentations both in the Maltese and English linguistic communication, with opera being basically of import, play, dancing, musical shows, and the one-year MADC Christmas dumb show. The Manoel Theatre has been home to countless famous persons and astonishing endowments such as Joseph Callejla, Boris Christoff, Louis Kenter, John Neville and many others. The theatre direction commission president right now is Michael Grech and the deputy president Kenneth Zammit. The theater besides has a museum ( which shows the history of the topographic point ) , and a gift store. It is astonishing to see that this theater managed to survived through all these old ages, all this history shacking within merely one edifice. It has such great intrinsic value, non merely to us but besides to the whole of Europe, that it should be taken attention of and preserved for the longest clip possible.