Orfeo & Majnun Music Theatre in Malta


The Maltese premiere of the Orfeo & Majnun music-theatre performance, which toured the Maltese Islands as part of Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture, took to the stage on the 19th of October, followed by a second staging on the 20th of October. The performance played to a packed house at one of Valletta’s most prestigious venues, the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC).  

On stage, the themes of love, loss and longing intertwined thanks to a multi-layered performance that combined music, opera, choirs, shadow puppetry and projections, bringing to light the parallels between the timeless love stories of Orfeo and Eurydice and Layla and Majnun.

Amidst the show’s many offerings, the surest crowd-pleasers were the consistently atmospheric score that accompanies the lovers’ many trials and, in the background, the graceful movement of a whole menagerie of animal puppets. Lion, bison, elk, ram, ewe, and gazelle oversee Majnun’s heart-rending retreat into the wilderness after social conventions tear him away from Layla. Elsewhere, Cerberus, the three-headed guardian of the underworld, marches on stage to mark Orfeo’s entry into the land of the dead as he breaches the gates in search of his beloved Eurydice.

By the end of the performance, the narrator reminds us that our lovers cannot escape their fate, for it has already been written in the stars. But there is another universal message which accompanies the lovers’ demise: as the narrator points to the stars above, we are also reminded that the power of love and poetry transcend time and conquer all.

Before the curtain call, children who took part in puppet-building workshops rushed down the theatre aisles carrying flocks of butterflies that fluttered like so many tiny souls. Meanwhile, a triumphant Pegasus left the backstage, emerging from the world of shadows to glide to the heart of the stage. The whole cast proceeded to exit from the side wings, gathering beneath Pegasus’ wings for the final applause, a tribute to the massive community effort which went into the local edition of the Orfeo & Majnun project.

Never to be forgotten is the message of Eurydice and her Orfeo, Layla and her Majnun… not only are these myths a testament to the throes of love and the endurance of poetry, but, like the story of Juliet and her Romeo, they are also a plea for change, for peace and solidarity, for the world to choose the path of love.

The show continues into late October, with a fantastic parade that brings Orfeo and Majnun’s animal puppets to life in the capital city. Don’t miss this FREE city-wide celebration where puppets animated by workshop participants take a marvellous stroll through the streets of Valletta. Expect song, dance, short performances, storytelling, and much more at Sfilata fil-Kapitali (Parade in the Capital).

Check out some highlights from this weekend's performance! 

Photos by Darren Agius