Mro Brian Schembri is in Malta to conduct a piano concert of the opera L’ Alpino at the Gran Salon, Museum of Archaeology in Valletta today, 1 October.
Carlo Diacono’s ‘L’Alpino’ is set during World War 1, and tells the love story of a young Italian couple – Enzo, a mountaineer hunter and Nella, a village girl – living in a mountain village situated in war torn Austro-Hungarian territory contested by Italy.
The opera was composed at a time when Malta was on the cusp of many political and social changes. and was first performed a year before the 1919 riots against British rule. During this period Malta’s political allegiances and affinities with Italy and England were being contested, markedly through the Language Question which brought to the fore the differences between the island’s pro-British and pro-Italian factions.
This complex situation is to be placed within the context of irridentism, which originated from Italy’s aspirations to retrieve territories it had lost during the independence wars (the Trentino and Trieste, otherwise known as terre irridente) and had evolved into similar claims on other territories, including Malta. It is in this spirit that Diacono’s work – evoking these political undertones, together with feelings of patriotism and nationalism – is to be understood.
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This event forms part of the European Heritage Days 2021.