July 30, 2010 - 8:30 pm

Byblos International Festival is pleased to host a unique performance of Mozart’s timeless masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Luca Valentino. Francesco Cilluffo will be conducting the orchestra alongside Toufic Maatouk who’ll be conducting the choir of the Antonine Fathers’ University.


The action of The Marriage of Figaro is a continuation of the plot of The Barber of Seville several years later, and recounts a single “day of madness” (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess; Dr. Bartolo is seeking revenge against Figaro for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself; and Count Almaviva has degenerated from the romantic youth of Barber into a scheming, bullying, skirt-chasing baritone. Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, he is now persistently trying to obtain the favors of Figaro’s bride-to-be, . He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, , and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. He responds by trying to legally compel Figaro to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she really is his mother. Through Figaro’s and ‘s clever manipulations, the Count’s love for his Countess is finally restored.

A wonderful example of Lebanese and Italian collaboration, this evening includes a young and talented cast of Opera singers from both countries and is presented in collaboration with the in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Antonine University.

This production stars Samar Salamé and Toufic Maatouk as the servant couple who outmaneuver their bosses (and everyone else in their world) over the course of one crazy day. Raymond Ghattas is the philandering Count, and Caroline Solage plays the role of his long-suffering wife.

Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata (The Marriage of Figaro, or the Day of Madness), K. 492, is an opera buffa (comic opera) in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (1784).

Although the play by Beaumarchais was at first banned in Vienna because of its satire of the aristocracy, considered dangerous in the decade before the French Revolution, the opera became one of Mozart’s most successful works. The opera was the first of three collaborations between Mozart and Da Ponte; their later collaborations were Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. It was Mozart who originally selected Beaumarchais’ play and brought it to Da Ponte, who turned it into a libretto in six weeks, rewriting it in poetic Italian and removing all of the original’s political references. In particular, Da Ponte replaced Figaro’s climactic speech against inherited nobility with an equally angry aria against unfaithful wives. Contrary to the popular myth, the libretto was approved by the Emperor, Joseph II, before Mozart wrote any music.


Francesco Cilluffo studied at Turin Conservatory of Music, then with Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Accademia Chigiana of Siena and Kings College, London.

Among his most recent appearances: a concert with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra (music by Cherubini, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini and Mascagni) organized by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura; a symphonic concert for MITO Settembre Musica Festival 2007 with the Ensemble Europeo Antidogma; a Verdi Gala at the Scottish Opera, Glasgow, and several concerts and productions for institutions like the London City Festival, Saddler’s Wells, London Contemporary Dance School and Guildhall School of Music and Drama (Barbican) in London. He is also a regular guest conductor of the CRT Symphony Orchestra in Italy.

Francesco Cilluffo is principal guest conductor of the Stefano Tempia Academy in Turin: after having conducted a successful peformance of Cherubini’s Requiem in c minor, he was invited to conduct a concert with Handel’s “Fireworks Music” and “Dettingen Te Deum”.

His future engagements include his debut with the Turin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting Mozart’s “Requiem (Levin edition)”.

He was awarded a PhD in composition at King’s College, London, under the supervision of Robert Keeley and George Benjamin. Over the last years, his works have been performed by the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, the Electra Ensemble in Amsterdam, the Graz University of the Arts and the London Song Festival. The Dicapo Opera Theatre has commissioned him a new opera (“Il Caso Mortara”), which opened in New York on February 2010 to rave reviews.

Samar Salamé was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Although she attended the Higher National Conservatory of Beirut, she finished her Audiovisual studies at IESAV (Saint-Joseph University) before embarking on her journey in the lyrical field.

Maestro Roberto De Simone invited her to join his company Media Aetas in Naples. She followed him to Italy and toured the Peninsula with his show “The Opera Buffa del Giovedi Santo”. At the end of the tour, Salamé moved to Rome to pursue her studies at The Conservatory of Santa Cecilia. During her five years at this prestigious institution, she participated in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” Voltaire’s “Semiramide”, Roberto De Simone’s “Requiem alla Memoria di Pier Paolo Pasolini” in Munich. She reached the finals of the Mattia Battistini contest in Rieti, joined Maestro Stefano Cucci choir that worked with Maestro Ennio Morricone… She also sang in various concerts as a soloist.

After graduating in December 2006, Samar Salamé moved to Paris and continued her career singing in “La Maya”, an adaptation of Alfred de Musset’s “Les Caprices de Marianne”, as well as in concerts in Paris (Conciergerie, Le Grand Palais, La Mairie du XIVème…) and Lebanon (Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, Mozart’s Mass, Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”, concerts at the Embassies of France and Italy and in the Jeita Grotto…).

Toufic Maatouk graduated in piano and musicology from the Higher Institute of Music at the Antonine University. He also studied classical singing and obtained a Master degree from the Higher National Conservatory of Beirut. He pursued his studies at “École Normale de Musique de Paris” (France) with Professor Caroline Dumas and Signora Stephania Magnifico from the Accademia Musicale Santa Cecilia.

In 2003, he participated in the Premiere of the opera “Ibn Sina” opera (Avicenna) at Qatar-Doha.

In June 2006 he participated in Weber’s opera “Abu Hassan” performed in Jordan.
In December 2006, he sang in the Mozart Coronation Mass. In 2007, he took part as Baritone soloist in Beethoven Ninth Symphony with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra.

In 2008, he sang the role of Don Giovanni in Mozart’s Opera at the 8th Al Aïn Festival (Abu Dhabi).

In 2009, he was the Count in Nozze di Figaro at the 9th festival of classical music, Al Aïn (Abu Dhabi).

Maatouk performed with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra, the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jordanian symphony Orchestra and Orchestra of the Opera Romania Timisoara. He worked under the direction of several conductors, including Marco Berdondini, Francesco Ciluffo, Marco Guidarini, Zbiegnew Grazca, Mgr.Valentino Miserachs, Paolo Olmi, Christopher Slowinsky and Rob Vermeulen.

Maatouk is currently the Director of the School of Music at the Antonine University and the director of the choir of the Antonine University with which he gave several concerts Cyprus, UAE, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar … He also teaches singing at the Higher National Conservatory of Beirut.


Luca Valentino is an Italian director, dramaturg and teacher, born in 1961 in Turin. He has directed a number of world premieres of new operas as well as first modern performances of forgotten operas from the past. He is particularly renowned for his shows for young people and chamber operas. Among his most recent productions, Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Teatro Comunale di Alessandria, Ciottolino at the Teatro Regio di Torino, El Salón de Anubis, staged at the Teatre Nacional of Barcelona. He has also collaborated as a dramaturg to the world premiere of Francesco Cilluffo’s opera Il caso Mortara which opened in New York in February 2010.
He is one of the most respected Alberto Savinio scholars in the world; he has lectured and taught about Savinio’s works in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and United States.

Valentino’s past experiences as assistant director include collaborations with Mario Missiroli (Teatro Stabile di Torino), Flavio Ambrosini (Teatro Regio di Parma), Claudio Cinelli, (Cité de la Musique de Paris) and Ugo Chiti (La Scala di Milano); he has also appeared as an actor in several Italian movies.

He is also the founder and general director of the International Chamber Opera Festival SCATOLA SONORA, now in its thirteenth edition – a project sponsored by the United Europe, and the International Festival Board.
Since 1992 he holds the position of Drama teacher at the Conservatorio Vivaldi of Alessandria.

Caroline Solage, soprano, born in Lebanon, have studied classical operatic singing at the Lebanese National higher conservatory and the Antonine University-faculty of music attending the class of Mrs. Natijta Manoyan ; she obtained her higher diploma in classical music in 2007. since November 2007, she resides in Paris, she attends the class of Mrs. Caroline Dumas at the “ecole normale superiour de musique de Paris” where she completes her higher diploma in lyrical Art, she equally attends and works on vocal interpretation and role study with world renowned vocal and stage coaches in Paris.

She appearead as soloist with the Warsaw chamber orchestra at Al Ain festivals in the title role of Donna Elvira from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and as Marcellina from Mozart’s the marriage of Figaro, performed with the Lebanese symphony orchestra- Beethoven’s choral fantasy,Vivaldi’s Gloria ; Prgolesi’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

Other concerts have been performed in different theatres and cathedrals in Lebanon ; France, Itlay and Jordan covering a repertoire of Sacred and secular music, song cycles and french melodies , Bach Cantata’s, Mozart’s and verdi’s Requiem,german peotry cycles by shubert, shumann,Brahms, Dvorak and Strauss, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Hayden’s  creation, melodies of Debussy,Faure, Duparc and petit, Jospeh waked asyrian and Maronite Hymns, scenes from operas such as Verdi’s Ottelo,Mozarts Bastien and Bastienna,Leoncavallo’s I pagliaccio, Pucinni’s La boheme,Turandot and tosca, Massenet’s Herodide
Caroline Solage had the honour to perform in the presence of the president of the republic, Mr.Michel Sleiman in his Protocol visit to France.

Upcoming concerts are to take place in New York, Paris and Lebanon.

Raymond Ghattas (Baritone Singer) was born in 1971 in Beirut, Lebanon. He studied classical singing at the Lebanese national higher conservatory of music with Professor Garo Jaderian and Professor Nona Manoyan.

In 2003 he graduated from the national higher conservatory of music BA in classical singing and in 2007 the final diploma in singing (end of music studies) from the Antonine school music.
His passion for opera singing has taken him to Italy where he worked and still under the supervision of Signora Silvana Ferraro who believes in his great voice qualities as a Verdian Baritone (Verdi).

Raymond did attend a master class with the famous tenor and conductor Maestro Giuseppe Sabbatini who encouraged him to work and follow his career in opera singing due to the quality of his voice and the vocal technique used in singing…

Raymond is a member and soloist of the Antonine University choir and has performed concerts in Lebanon, France, Italy, and United States…

He is one of the promising Lebanese singers in the opera genre.


  • Susanna Samar SALAME
  • Figaro Toufic MAATOUK
  • Countess Rosina Almaviva Caroline SOLAGE
  • Count Almaviva Raymond GHATTAS
  • Cherubino Rosa BOVE
  • Marcellina Gabriella COLECCHIA
  • Bartolo/Antonio Alessandro KARBON
  • Basilio/Don Curzio Ziad NEHME
  • Barbarina Aline MAALOUF
  • Conductor  Francesco CILUFFO
  • Choir Antonine University
  • Director Luca VALENTINO
  • Coach Gulliver RALSTON
  • Stage set Maroun AZOURI
  • Costumes Arrigo Costumi – Milan