Gozo’s Gaulitanus Choir launched the 8th edition of Gaulitana: A Festival of Music including Puccini’s Tosca – this year’s highlight event – on Monday 3rd during a press conference held at Vini e Capricci. The festival will be on from the 21st March to the 10th May.

Mro Colin Attard, the festival’s artistic director, opened the event by briefly touching on some of the 20-odd programme, which will retain the eclectic mix of styles, featuring establish and up-coming, local and international artists as well as its outreach footprint. Events, which will be held in various venues in Gozo, include a concluding concert featuring the Gaulitanus Choir, Soloists and Orchestra featuring Messa Papa Giovanni XXIII by Joseph Vella and Missa Brevis In Honorem Johannis Pauli II by Colin Attard celebrating the imminent canonization of both popes; a concert by one of the leading UK chamber choirs, the Elysian Singers; a concert by Steinway artist, pianist, conductor and organist Alexander Frey; and 2 concerts premiering in Malta Italian contemporary music in the presence of the composers themselves.

Attard also gave extensive details about Tosca, the full-scale operatic production being held in collaboration with Taormina Festival on the 12th of April, 2014 at the Teatru tal-Opra Aurora. The director and scene-artist will be acclaimed Italian director Enrico Castiglione, who has to his credit 2 Tosca productions released live in European cinemas by Rai Mondovisione. The cast will be spear-headed by one of the world’s best interpreters of Tosca, Norma Fantini, top Italian tenor Piero Giuliacci and emerging baritone Francesco Landolfi, currently collaborating with Muti. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be under the baton of Colin Attard whilst the chorus will be the Gaulitanus Choir.

Enrico Castiglione, speaking in a direct link from Lecce, where he is preparing for a production of Tosca, commented on the forthcoming collaboration between Taormina Festival and Gaulitana: A Festival of Music. This opera will be his Maltese debut, an event he eagerly looks forward to.

The Hon. Dr Anton Refalo, Minister for Gozo, described this upcoming festival as an important cultural feat, which also enhances Gozo’s touristic appeal in the shoulder months. He remarked on the work involved producing an opera without being the proprietor of a theatre, a rare occurrence in our islands.

The Hon. Dr Franco Mercieca, Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Elderly and Active Ageing praised this event and launched the scheme whereby senior citizens and mobility-impaired ones will be benefiting from €20 discount on opera tickets.

Mr Abraham Said, who hosted the event, commended on his pleasure in supporting quality events which match his entrepreneurial policies.

The press conference was also attended by some of the festival’s sponsors. Gaulitana is being supported by: Ministry for Gozo, Parliamentary Secretariat for Right of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing, VisitGozo, Malta Arts Fund, Taormina Festival, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Verso L’Arte, Vini e Capricci, Kunsill Lokali Nadur, Kunsill Lokali Rabat, Kunsill Lokali Xaghra, Kunsill Lokali Xewkija, Russian Centre for Science and Culture, Michael Grech Financial Investment Services, HSBC, Bank of Valletta, JDB Printing and Oleander Bar & Restaurant.

Entrance to all the festival events (except for the opera) is free of charge. More details can be found on www.gaulitanus.com. Bookings for Tosca are open and tickets can be obtained by emailing info@gaulitanus.com, by phoning 99209779/99248963, online at www.teatruaurora.com or from the Aurora Box Office.