Gozo: One Island, Two Opera Houses

A documentary by Claus Wischmann

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Joseph Calleja — Tenor

Program notes

The film observes opera-crazy volunteers and amateur musicians engaging in the annual tussle for the best Verdi performance in the Mediterranean and international tenor Joseph Calleja doing his level best to keep things from getting out of hand. A film about no-holds-barred commitment, a passionate love of music, and how cut-throat rivalry can bring forth genuine art.

The small island of Gozo (right next to Malta) has 30,000 inhabitants and two opera houses. This means it has more opera per square mile than any other place in the world. The organization, the staging, and much of the singing are all done by amateurs. The only trouble is, there is no love lost between the two houses. There are two conductors, two choruses, two teams of stage workers and organizers and behind it all two rival clans whose sole ambition every year is to come out on top in the great operatic singing match. But there is one thing they do have to share: the orchestra. Malta only has one to its name. In the middle of the fray we find Maltese star tenor Joseph Calleja. As a teenager he earned his singing spurs in Gozo, and now he comes back to the island every year to act as a mediator.

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