The Three Palaces Online Festival production brings together some of the leading names from Malta’s artistic scene in a glorious marriage of music, drama and dance.
The use of that most iconic phrase from Dante’s opus – Nel Mezzo Del Cammin – led me to expect a superb effort from this eponymous production. As did the fact that the collaboration brings together some of the most well-known names from various artistic disciplines, including Matthew Muscat Drago as Director Of Photography.
Theatre is represented by Joseph Zammit as Dante, Gianni Selvaggi as Pierre delle Vigne, Michela Farrugia as Francesca and Charlotte Grech as Ulysses. The musicians are Fiorella Camilleri and Tricia Dawn Williams; dancers Amy Degaetano, Pamela Kerr (also the choreographer) and Jade Farrugia.
The film is directed by Daniela Said, with dramaturgy by Philip Leone-Ganado. Music compositions are by Ruben Zahra, Veronique Vella and Chris Muscat.
A long list of collaborators, but I felt compelled to mention them all by name, given that each component plays such an important role in the success of the whole. The film starts off with ‘the’ quote itself, as the viewer follows Zammit’s Dante and Williams’ trademark piano notes to come to rest on a stark shot of Gate of Hell, the late sculptor Joseph Casha’s award-winning work.
The sculpture is on permanent display at the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat, which is where the entirety of this production is shot – an apt location, especially as its baroque nature and the subterranean darkness when filming in the underground shelters lends itself naturally to the themes of the work.
This is a dramatic start, undoubtedly, and it’s no exaggeration to state that the drama doesn’t let up all through, keeping the viewer on tenterhooks, mesmerized by the bravura performance of all involved, exalted by truly excellent cinematography.
Muscat Drago is known for turning his stark, uncompromising eye into shots of beauty, and Nel Mezzo del Cammin provided ample fodder for him to show off this talent, which he undoubtedly did.
Dante’s text is dramatised in both its original Italian and in Maltese. Speaking bluntly, I never expected Dante translated into Maltese to flow so beautifully, the poetry untainted. This is not a reflection on Maltese as a language, but merely an indication of my love for the classical text in its original, harmonious language. Yet, in this case Alfred Palma’s translation retained the entire beauty of the original, the actors doing it full justice.
Nel Mezzo del Cammin is darkness made beautiful, bringing forth the full potential of various disciplines into one, powerful production. Even better, the production is 100% homegrown – once again, I have to applaud Three Palaces Festival director Michelle Castelletti for opening up the festival for these kinds of collaborations between local artists.
In short, a brilliant addition to this year’s Three Palaces Festival programming.