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London City Opera to stage 'opera on water'

The London City Opera will be presenting Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème on water at Portomaso's marina, in what promises to be one of the most original events this summer.

Dubbed "Opera on water" this unique event, on July 30, will actually be staged on a floating barge and will combine culture with wining and dining.

The London City Opera director, Martin McEvoy is in Malta on a whirlwind visit to discuss the details with the organisers and will also be meeting the Malta Arts Council today.

This non-profit event is being organised by the managing directors of Launches, Lisa Borain, and Resorts Malta, Simon Gatt; together with Cleland & Souchet directors Richard Cleland and Jean Galea Souchet.

The idea originated after a brainstorming session on how to utilise and exploit the beauty of the Portomaso marina by organising a memorable event.

After establishing contact with The London City Opera, things rolled into motion and five weeks ago, Mr McEvoy, together with his stage designer, visited Malta for a recce - they were stunned by the location.

"We have travelled to several countries with our opera, but this is the first time we're holding one on water, so we are looking forward to it," Mr McEvoy said in an interview.

"The only difficulty I can foresee is trying to recreate the scene of the freezing Christmas eve in Paris 1900 in the middle of Malta's summer," he joked.

The London City Opera have an extensive repertoire and they have played for the likes of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former US first couple George and Barbara Bush and European royal families.

The company, originally named Crystal Clear Opera, was set up by Mr McEvoy to take opera across the UK and make it accessible, understandable, clear and affordable.

A professional opera singer, Mr McEvoy eventually got the backing of the Arts Council of England to travel across the UK and even landed a contract to tour the US from coast to coast - that's when the company changed its name to The London City Opera.

The company has now established itself as the market leader of high quality touring opera throughout the UK.

Mr McEvoy sees his experience in Malta as a way of spreading his impact: by presenting a master class for students or conducting a recital in an old church in one of the island's villages to take opera to the people.

Opera is often seen as restricted, either because of the price tag normally attached to the ticket, or because it is deemed to be for the elite or simply because many feel they cannot understand it.

Mr McEvoy brushes these views aside, and while he admits that opera can be an expensive art form, he feels that if people read up a bit before they went to the opera they could have a little life-changing experience.

"By giving a small recital to a church in a village we could take opera to the people who may not normally attend - opera is for everybody," he argued.

La Bohème has been chosen for the local event because of its worldwide popularity and because it is a light-hearted and easy performance to watch.

The organisers are also offering guests the chance to buy gala dinner seats or cocktail seats to allow them to wine and dine while savouring the opera.

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