Archive for July, 2012

Always welcome

July 31, 2012


The superyacht Vava II, the 33rd largest in the world costing an incredible €127 million, sailed out of the Grand Harbour yesterday. It belongs to the richest woman in Britain, former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, and was a present from her Swiss husband, billionaire pharmaceuticals chief Ernesto. It has a fold-down beach club, a helicopter landing pad, four boats to ferry passengers to shore and a swimming pool which can be varied in depth to suit requirements of the guests who stay in luxury cabins. It costs around €300,000 to fill the fuel tank.

Vittoriosa to twin with St Tropez

July 25, 2012


Former French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot may not have descended on Vittoriosa in the 1960s, elevating it to an upmarket destination as the icon had done in St Tropez. But one of the Three Cities is benefitting from her celebrity influence many years down the line.

The French Riviera port in the south of France, associated with famous and wealthy guests, may appear to be worlds apart from Vittoriosa but the two cities are about to be twinned and the latter stands to benefit from the link to the exclusive St Tropez brand.

For the first time, the Côte d’Azur destination, often referred to as the “playground” of jet-setters, models and millionaires, has decided to twin with another port and chose the once neglected but recently regenerated Vittoriosa over others in Europe.

For its mayor, John Boxall, the twinning between the “smallest island in the middle of the Mediterranean, the smallest country in the EU, and one of France’s richest cities means a lot”.

Vittoriosa, he maintained, would automatically experience a quality leap in terms of popularity and the link was expected to “boost Birgu”, leaving an impact on its tourism, with the arrival of more superyachts in the marina serving to strengthen its economy.

“The yachting industry is big business,” Mr Boxall acknowledged, adding it led to even more regeneration. He was convinced the town, which already hosts luxury yachts and was still being upgraded, should benefit from the connection with the internationally known seaside resort and so should the country.

The twinning idea was born a couple of years ago through former Maltese Ambassador to France, Mark Miggiani, and Ambassador Pierre Clive Agius has continued in his predecessor’s footsteps.

The hook has been the prestigious regatta Trophée Bailli de Suffren from St Tropez to Malta, which has, since this year, ended at the Vittoriosa Waterfront and should be the yearly finishing line.

Although the two ports would not appear to have much in common, French Admiral Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez (1729–1788), who served with the Knights of the Order of St John, is a common denominator that has been capitalised on.

Thanks to the regatta and the consequent twinning, the two ports could take advantage of each others’ potential, be it history, or tourism, Mr Boxall said.

“Big names have already started arriving in Vittoriosa, thanks to the regatta, and more are expected in the future,” he continued.

While St Tropez enjoyed celebrity status, Vittoriosa – “the cradle of Maltese civilisation” – boasted the history, Mr Boxall pointed out. He was recently invited by St Tropez mayor Jean-Pierre Tuveri for the start of the regatta and to lay wreaths at the admiral’s monument.

The plan is to sign the twinning agreement in the fitting and newly renovated Auberge de France during Birgufest in October, which includes the Birgu by Candlelight event.

Night at the popera

July 9, 2012


Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja returned to his Floriana stage on Saturday night for a concert before thousands of people on the Granaries.
The annual concert by the internationally-renowned tenor is held every summer, bringing together pop and opera. The formula is a crowd-pleaser year in, year out.
This year’s line-up included the Neapolitan singer-songwriter Gigi D’Alessio and Irish heart-throb and former Boyzone lead singer Ronan Keating. Both performed duets with Mr Calleja. The 200-strong HSBC children’s choir also took part.
Among the best received numbers were Hallelujah, sung jointly by Calleja, Keating and the choir – which got an encore – as well as Because You’re Mine, You Raise Me Up and Brindisi.
Keating’s single When You Say Nothing at All, which was featured in the film Notting Hill and peaked at number one in several countries, got a huge cheer from the audience.
The choir was particularly applauded for its beautiful rendering of the Anvil Chorus, which kicked off the second part of the concert.
Several of the musical arrangements were made by Kevin and Paul Abela
Mr Calleja was also joined on stage by soprano Gillian Zammit and Amber, fresh from the Eurovision Song Contest where she was part of Kurt Calleja’s team.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was directed by the internationally acclaimed conductor Steven Mercurio, who has collaborated with Mr Calleja on his new album, a tribute to opera star Mario Lanza.
The concert included a moving tribute to Lucio Dalla, who was in Malta last year shortly before he passed away suddenly.
The concert was organised by NnG Promotions and supported by HSBC, Vodafone and Allied Newspapers.