Angling for applause

No matter what angle one looked from, the opening of Valletta 2018 on Saturday was a memorable night out for the more than 80,000 visitors gathered in the streets of Malta's capital.

Valletta's four main squares played host to a variety of programmes as the city kicked off its 12-month stint as the European Capital of Culture, a title it is sharing with Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.

Among the shows was The Rise Of The Tritons, where dancers suspended by wire put on an aerobatic display under the direction of Spanish theatrical company La Fura dels Baus.

The international collaboration is just one of the more than 140 projects and 400 events planned for the year by local and foreign artists, curators, writers, performers, designers, choirs and film-makers.

Organisers hope that the new title will give Malta an opportunity to showcase its rich history and culture, as well as serve as a catalyst to regenerate its artistic heritage.

It has already led to a new museum of art and a revamp of Strait Street, once popular with British sailors during World War II.

"Malta is once again prepared to punch above its weight," said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. "We will show exactly what we are - how we lived in the past and how we live our everyday lives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Angling for applause'. Print Edition | Subscribe