There’s always a drama being played out nearby to Londa! Just 5.6 kms (3.5 miles) west from the hotel is Limassol’s Rialto Theatre – the city’s enduring home of the performing arts. It may not have been around as long as say, the Curium Theatre (built in the 2nd century AD) but 2019 sees the Rialto celebrating the 20th anniversary of its re-opening, which kicks off with a spectacular open-air party at Heroes’ Square on Friday May 17th.
Today, the Rialto is firmly established as a leading arts venue serving a wide-ranging audience of cultural explorers with exceptional local and international events in music, drama, cinema, dance and opera. Around one in seven of the 3.9 million annual visitors to Cyprus (in 2018) make their way to Limassol every year. With its rich, diverse programme of events, the Rialto is definitely a firm favourite for many to enjoy an inspiring night out, often accompanied by dinner at the Londa’s very own Caprice Restaurant!
Magical journey of glorious colour and costume
One excellent example is an evening of Greek traditional music presented by “Takim”, to be hosted by the Limassol Folklore Association on 23rd May 2019. Combining music and dancing in a diverse mix of audio and rare visuals, the audience will be taken on a musical journey that passes through Ioannina, the Balkans, Constantinople, Smyrna, Cyprus and America. Along the way, many a poignant human story is uncovered that is linked to a singer or musician from the Greek music tradition of well-known and much-loved songs.
Just a few days earlier, and an international flavour also takes centre-stage in a production of the world-famous, children’s fairy tale “The Wizard of the Emerald City” on Saturday, May 18th. Performed by the Saint Petersburg’s Bryantsev Youth Theatre, the Russian re-telling of the “The Wizard of Oz” with English sub-titles is another magical journey of glorious colour and costume for all the family, and a particular hallmark of Rialto cultural exchange. In fact, the word “Rialto” comes from the historic centre in Venice, Italy, where commercial “exchange” took place.
Distinctive, original architectural features
Originally built in 1930, the Rialto was the first modern cinema (and theatre) in Cyprus, and continued to play a key role in the cultural life of Limassol for the next fifty years. However, over time, the arrival of television and video, and the island’s social upheaval of the mid 1970s saw the Rialto falter as audiences dwindled. Eventually, the cinema closed in the mid 1980s.
Luckily, while other buildings were lost to later redevelopment of the Old City, the derelict Rialto was saved when it was purchased by the Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank in February 1991. Extensive refurbishment followed, which saw the installation of state of the art technical equipment while also carefully preserving the venue’s distinctive, original architectural features. Fully restored to her former iconic glory, the Rialto was finally ready to open her gleaming new doors on May 15, 1999, and to usher in a new age in the rising cultural role Limassol now plays to a worldwide audience.
The 20th anniversary of the re-opening is intended to celebrate and honour all the many artists, associations and cultural organisations involved in the cultural life of Cyprus. A series of events are planned, which aim to present a snapshot of the current artistic and creative work of Cyprus and from around the world. The focus on global participation and collaboration is always a guiding script in the unfolding narrative of Limassol as a key player in international cultural and leisure activities.
Prestigious partner of the Ministry of Education and Culture
Looking forward, in July, the venue will present the 14th Cyprus Rialto World Music Festival 2019 in Heroes’ Square. Every year, artists and musicians from Cyprus and from abroad have a unique opportunity to participate in live music projects staged in a series of open-air concerts. The “open submission” festival is a fantastic showcase of diverse music styles, which share common backgrounds and similar influences. Inspired by the traditions of each country, the aim is to build creative bridges with current music trends and different genres.
Over two decades, the Rialto has staged thousands of events across the entire spectrum of the performing arts, drawing 1.5 million spectators to its 550 seat auditorium. Established as one of the most important cultural organisations in Cyprus, the venue is also a prestigious partner of the Ministry of Education and Culture, co-organising major state events and festivals, and playing a dominant role in the island’s cultural development.