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Cameron Mackintosh and open theatres - what's best for Valletta? (3)

The latest rabbit to be produced from the governmental hat is Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who declared he can transform the admittedly ugly and inadequate Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) into a 'grand opera house'; something that we need like a hole in the head!

Had Sir Cameron, who is, by the way, partly Maltese, declared that he would transform it into the type of theatre we all need - one that can take many different genres in an environment that is not acoustically disastrous and can transform the present aeroplane hangar atmosphere into something more congenial - then, yes, of course, I would be all for it.

Nothing, however, can be more of a white elephant than a theatre to be used exclusively for opera. Ongoing opera is unsustainable and would bankrupt the country. We can afford a couple of operas a year but that is all; and even these mini-operas run at a loss.

There are, however, many other genres of performing art that need a proper venue and which have been looking to the pathetically small opera house site venue in desperation. The transformation of the MCC into what Sir Cameron proposes but which is not used exclusively for opera would prove to be a very congenial solution.

However, with regard to the opera house site, both Renzo Piano and Sir Cameron must be unaware of Malta's cultural requirements and limitations. Sir Cameron obviously does not frequent his Valletta residence in summer when petards are launched on a daily basis from at least 17 parishes in and around our capital city, transmogrifying any open air performance into a nightmare.

An open air venue instead of the opera house as proposed by Mr Piano will never be a terrific venue for summer events as imagined by Sir Cameron for precisely that reason. And anyway, who on earth really relishes going to watch any performance in the middle of some heavy sirocco in August? I certainly don't.

Be that as it may, the solution is now much clearer: the MCC can be turned into an all-purpose theatre by Sir Cameron and the opera house site can be turned into a closed concert hall to house our homeless Malta Philharmonic by Mr Piano, who can use his own Sala della Musica Niccolo Paganini in Parma as a blueprint. What could be simpler? And I didn't even have to think out of the box to arrive at this solution either.

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