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The Manoel Theatre is a true historical gem in the heart of the capital, Valletta. Constructed in record time on the between 1731 and 1732 on the orders of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, it is today the de facto Malta’s national theatre. It is home to Malta’s theatrical afficionados but also to thousands of one-timers that visit this splendid building for the occasional production.
Originally, the Manoel, as it is affectionally called by locals, was designed for the entertainment of the Maltese knights and is today recognised as one of the oldest theatres still in operation. Despite numerous alterations over the years, it retained many of its old architectural features, such as the white Carrara marble staircase, shell-shaped niches, and Viennese chandeliers.
The Theatre hosts a number of plays, musicals, recitals and concerts each year, as well as a major yearly opera and the much-awaited Christmas pantomime. A number of illustrious visitors have enjoyed a production in this venue, including Queen Elizabeth II.
However, a three-hundred-year history has endangered the quality of productions offered at this cultural institution. EU funds came to the rescue to ensure the preservation and upgrading of the Theatre. The aim of the project, administered by the Culture Ministry, was to provide with an improved, high-quality experience to the patrons of the Manoel Theatre through the implementation and installation of a new ventilation and acclimatization system, which replaces the ventilation system installed in 1811, and which was no longer adequate to create a comfortable ambiance in terms of air temperature control, humidity levels and air purification.
In addition to the climate control system, the roof, seating and floor of the same theatre were all revamped. This has also resulted in an incredible improvement in the acoustics of the theatre.
These ERDF funds were not the only ones tapped by the administrators of the theatre. Funding from the European Social Fund was also secured to provide for the implementation of lifelong learning initiatives for employees at the Teatru Manoel. These initiatives involved training such as short courses, internships, conferences, workshops, conventions and seminars held locally and abroad. The training was related to areas such as Theatre Productions, Cultural Historic Buildings, Front of House, Marketing, Arts Management, Arts, Theatre, Drama and Music.
The renovation of the majestic theatre will support the revival of the local theatrical scene, which has seen growing participation in recent years, also thanks to initiatives which have also attracted a younger audience, such as Ziguzajg and Toi Toi. This strengthens the role of the theatre in enriching the cultural life of the audience as well as to provide the ideal platform for artists to excel in their talents.
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