While I was still performing in England, (1961) a small article appeared in one of the London Newspapers praising my performance at St. Pancras Town Hall presented by the Asian Music Circle.
An impresario from Malta saw the item and contacted Mr. Angadi of the Asian Music Circle inquiring where I could be reached. Mr. Angadi gave this information to us and my husband began a correspondence with Mr. Bugeja, from the Department of Education in Malta.
A meeting was arranged when he came to London and I showed some of my work. He immediately signed me to a contract for a week of concert appearances in Valletta at the National Theater, the Manoel. I booked a guitarist, singer and pianist to accompany me on the program.
As business letters went back and forth regarding payment, publicity and promotion, I began intense rehearsals in London with my colleagues. The pianist, John Vernon, was an Englishman, a wonderful musician who was also an organist and played accordion as well. The flamenco singer Juan Martin, was known by his stage name of “Manolete” as he resembled the famous matador Manolete of Spain. Juan was from Santander, in Northern Spain, but well versed in cante jondo.. The guitarist in this instance was Paco Torres, a Welshman from the Isle of Man who had a good musical background and gave me solid support throughout a very long solo program.
I was the first American and first Spanish Dancer to appear at the Manoel Theater. a jewel box of an Opera house in typical Baroque style which had been restored after the 2nd World War.
Posters were printed and an elaborate souvenir program prepared for the engagement. It featured publicity about my concerts in London, Liverpool and the United States.
My programs followed the well known British actress Margaret Rutherford who played at the theater in her own presentation. We were given hotel accommodations in Sliema. The theater furnished a stage crew and a wonderful wardrobe mistress who attended my every need. This kindly English woman, Anne Rowe, gifted me with a large, beautiful shawl, a “Manton” which I keep and use to the present day!
Apart from this important contract, an interesting aspect of the engagement in Malta itself resulted in a fascinating story. This part of the world has a historical background related to Spain and Italy and the Knights of Columbus. The island (off the coast of Sicily) is situated in the Mediterranean Sea and has an archaeological site relating to the Stone Age of 5000 years ago. The Hypogeum is a vast exhibit of Stone Age temples going back to a matriarchal society. All of this was carefully researched by my husband. The people speak a Semitic language. A very exotic location!
Since my husband had embarked on an analysis of the structure and form of Flamenco dance and song, he found parallels in this ancient culture to the musical system of Flamenco. The worship of a goddess figure, “the sleeping lady” was a prominent feature and invoked the image of the woman dancing in Flamenco.
The spirals on the temples and stone carvings signified continuity and this element is inherent in the endless chain of rhythm of unwritten music in this folk art.
With this history, Bernard arranged some material for me to use in an interview on the radio the day I arrived in Valletta. Bernard had traveled ahead to Valletta for three days to help set up the necessary preparations for the performance. I flew in with Paco, Juan and John and we were welcomed at the Hotel and later at the theater. Apparently, Paul Bugeja had scheduled two full concerts on the same day at the Manoel with only about an hour and a half in between. Neither he nor my husband seemed to have realized what a physical strain this would be on me. The remaining performances on the Island were at a school and another at a convent totaling six full concert programs in the week. If it had not been for my superb health and complete fitness, I might not have survived without becoming ill. In addition to all the dancing, the “Intermission” between the two programs on Saturday was spent on a photo session scheduled with me and my accompanists in full costume. During the week of the run at the theater a tour of the Island and through the archeological sites of the Hypogeum was in progress. All photos were taken by the Malta Tourist Board. These were black and white glossy photographs in costume except for a few in my personal clothes when we and some other guests were entertained at the Palace of the Baron or Marquise Luchona. The Baron conducted a tour of the castle and a luncheon was served. During the week a physical therapist was provided to treat me after the performances were finished at the Manoel.
At the end of the engagement, there was a reception at the home of the Consul General for the United States, and Mrs. J. Miles. While we were at this function, a message was left at the desk at our hotel in Sliema. It was a handwritten note from the Baron asking if I would like to go out with him. I never was sure whether he was aware I was married or not. I’ve kept his note all this time.
The concerts were an outstanding success and two rave reviews appeared by the critic of the Malta Times. Back in London, after several weeks, dozens of photos were received in the mail taken by the Malta Government.
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