Teatru Manoel is a historical monument of global importance and a living temple of the performing arts. Built in 1731 by order of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, whose name it still bears, it remains today one of the finest examples of theatre architecture in Europe.
Named as one of the 15 most beautiful theatres by CNN in May 2014, the Manoel is also one of the oldest ‘working’ theatres in the world and is Malta’s national theatre. As incumbent custodians of this priceless gem, it is our responsibility not only to preserve and enhance it but also to sustain its relevance for the present and above all, the future.
This book aims to present the many other facets that make up the institution that is the Manoel. First and foremost there is the theatre’s role in the cultural environment of Malta as well as Europe. Secondly, there is the rich and chequered history of this 283-year-old building which has survived plagues, invasions, blockades, stiff competition, wars and economic downturns with a detailed account of the changes it has undergone both to its architecture and internal decor. Thirdly, and of no less importance, are the thousands of artistic productions that have involved great, renowned and not-so-renowned artists from every performing arts genre that have, over the centuries, graced its stage.
Furthermore, this book, which covers the history, the architectural changes, the performers and performances over so many decades to date, ensures that this theatre’s unparalleled contribution to Malta’s cultural scene is acknowledged, appreciated and documented.