The Farsons Foundation supports a UM Royal Opera House Research Project through RIDT

The Farsons Foundation supports a UM Royal Opera House Research Project through RIDT
March 2024 Claudette Buttigieg

The Farsons Foundation supports a UM Royal Opera House Research Project through RIDT

The University of Malta (UM) is announcing a collaboration with the Farsons Foundation to support research and a related publication on the Royal Opera House (Teatru Rjal). This collaboration is being facilitated by the Research, Innovation & Development Trust (RIDT).


Prof. Vicki Ann Cremona, Resident Academic and Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Malta is conducting a research study to establish the origins of a number of backdrops used by the Royal Opera House in Valletta, in connection with various operas performed at the said location. These priceless backdrops have recently been located, after having been missing for circa seventy years.


Some of the surviving scenes are clearly attributed to operas, in particular Lorelley (A. Catalani), Sonnambula (V. Bellini), Norma (V. Bellini), Gioconda (A. Ponchielli), Cecilia (L. Refice) The scenery is enough to give a good idea of what the different acts of each opera looked like. Much of it is breathtakingly beautiful, and of a very high artistic quality.

Prof. Vicki Ann Cremona commented that this incredible find highlights the importance of paper heritage in Malta, which takes both the form of manuscripts and printed material, as well as artefacts, all of which necessitate preservation, as they are part of our patrimonial wealth. The history of the Royal Opera House, with its socio-political implications, is one that deserves to be told. I am grateful to RIDT and Farsons Foundation who have helped me tell it from a new perspective.


Another important discovery concerns the Manoel Theatre and involves scenery painted on thick canvas cloth that certainly dates to sometime before the end of the nineteenth century.


This project, therefore, proposes to tell the story of the Royal Opera House, highlighting the scenery that has been brought to light.


For the Farsons Foundation, this collaboration is also rooted in nostalgia, as it transpires that Giuseppe Farrugia, a member of the Farrugia Family, was once an impresario at the Royal Opera House, and certainly produced the most successful seasons in the 1930s.


Mr Michael Farrugia, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Farsons, said: “The Farsons Foundation is very proud to be supporting this excellent research study on such a precious find and unique body of cultural artefacts and heritage. We wholeheartedly support the invaluable work being carried out by Prof Vicki Ann Cremona which is being facilitated by the RIDT and are doubly enthused given the Farrugia and Farsons family ties to the Royal Opera House. Such a labour of love can indeed only be fuelled by genuine passion and commitment to the noble preservation of our rich cultural heritage and patrimony”.


“The RIDT is thrilled to be part of this beautiful project that sheds light on the history of performing arts in Malta. A big thank you goes to the Farsons Foundation for their support towards the University of Malta, and to Prof. Cremona for her relentless work”, concluded Mr Wilfred Kenely, Chief Executive Officer of RIDT.