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Minister for Culture, Dr. Owen Bonnici, this morning during a press conference, announced that the government will later on this year be studying the possibility of adding a retractable roof to the present open theater. This is the first time that a high ranking government official admitted that the Royal Opera House. This announcement was welcomed and most social media comments were positive, however nearly all agreed that if the Government is to spend money to take care of this theater it should be rebuilt back to it’s original state and dodge the present half-finished look.

“On the evening of Tuesday, April 7, 1942, the theatre was devastated by Luftwaffe bombers. The next morning a people hardened by aerial bombing inspected the remains of their national theatre…. The portico and the auditorium were a heap of stones, the roof a gaping hole of twisted girders. The rear end starting half way from the colonnade was however intact.

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Caption : The Original Royal Opera House in all it’s glory

The remaining structures were levelled down as a safety precaution. German prisoners-of-war in Malta offered to rebuild the theatre in 1946 with the Government declining; the more likely reason—if the offer was ever made—was that hardly anyone of these prisoners of war could be expected to be qualified masons.

All that remained of the Opera House were the terrace and parts of the columns.

In 2006 the government announced a proposal to redevelop the site for a dedicated House of Parliament, which by then was located in the former Armoury of the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta. The proposal was not well received since it had always been assumed that the site would eventually be developed into something that would house a cultural institution, however Renzo Piano was again approached and started to work on new designs.

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Caption: The open-theater nowadays, it was described as an architectural masterpiece but without any particular use

The proposal was ostensibly shelved until after the general elections of 2008 and, on 1 December 2008, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi revived the proposal with a budget of €80 million. Piano dissuaded the Government from building a Parliament on site of the Opera House, instead planning a House of Parliament on present-day Freedom Square and a re-modelling of the city gate. Piano instead proposed an open-air theatre for the site and at the time his suggestion was welcomed by the government and the go-ahead given.

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