We love culture here at LivingInMalta – and what better way to enjoy it than under the stars, in an open-air theatre in Valletta this September?

So, to celebrate that, we got in touch with local Soprano, Francesca Aquilina, who forms part of Dutch-based Opera Spanga’s latest production, AIDA – and which will be performed in Malta on 13 and 15 September at Pjazza Teatru Rjal.

Francesca has lived and worked both in Malta and abroad, has sung in venues all around Europe, and will be performing at a festival in Japan next year, alongside a number of her students. Here’s what she had to say about her wonderful journey so far.

Why did you choose to take up opportunities to perform and live outside of Malta?

Malta is great and has a lot to offer. But, being a small country, opportunities to study and specialise are limited. Our music schools are wonderful (for the most part), but in order to reach a professional level, you have to develop your artistry further. This means traveling beyond our very blue waters, as I chose to do.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re in Malta?

I love the theatre and try my best to go to as many productions and festivals as possible. I also love the countryside and discovering new places to explore, be it with my fur-baby, Molly, or by cycling around with my Dad. The food and drink scene on the Islands is vibrant, and I can’t think of anything better than discovering a new foodie place with my partner or my friends.

What attracted you to Opera Spanga’s contemporary retelling of Giuseppe Verdi’s AIDA?

I love the realness and relevance of modern opera, and this show is a perfect example of that. Although traditional opera may appear more beautiful, visually, I personally feel that reworking an opera to discover its links to current events is ever-so thrilling!

What are you most looking forward to about the show in Malta?

Bringing home this work of art is an honour and a privilege for me. I am very much looking forward to having the audience hear the beautiful and talented singers’ voices, and I am sure that we’ve never seen anything like it before locally, on an operatic field at least.

What can audiences expect from this highly-anticipated event, which has been labelled as the highlight of both European Capital of Culture programmes, in Valletta and Leeuwarden-Fryslân, in the Netherlands?

The thrill of having the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra play alongside this extraordinary cast is a highlight in itself. Verdi’s music is breathtakingly beautiful. As Bizet once said ‘Verdi… has bursts of marvellous passion. His passion is brutal, it is true, but it is better to be impassioned in this way than not at all. His music at times exasperates, but it never bores.’

What would you suggest that international members of the audience do, when in Malta?

There is something for everyone in Malta! You could rent a car and explore the island, speak to locals, who are always more than happy to dish out advice about where to go, what to do and where to eat. Just make sure that you leave enough time to explore the magical city of Valletta!

Francesca Aquilina will be performing in Opera Spanga’s contemporary retelling of Giuseppe Verdi’s AIDA, at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Valletta, on 13 and 15 September. Tickets can be purchased online from www.pjazzateatrurjal.com.