Cape Town Opera at 21

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Coming of age: a pivotal moment in the existence of a company no less than an individual, Cape Town Opera has reached that moment in this turbulent year. 

The month of August marks the CTO’s 21st anniversary, a milestone no doubt. Prior to COVID-19 we had planned to celebrate this very special time in true CTO style with opera lovers far and wide, however present circumstances do not allow for it, but we remain confident and look forward to a time when we can be together again.

Mrs Susan Smith, CTO’s Board Chairperson said, “Two decades of resilience in the face of multiple challenges as well as notable achievements in the global context, must afford no small satisfaction to the company.  To know that during this pandemic every member of our fabulous opera company is safe and well, buoyant and bubbly with creativity, and in the most beautiful voice, is for me the very best celebration of our 21st anniversary. Here’s to you all and to sparkling new horizons at Cape Town Opera for the next 21 years!” 
The Cape Town Opera Patron programme whose members both local and abroad provide on-going support of great value in underpinning the company’s endeavours, is a key factor in its sustainability.  Below are some birthday wishes received from Patrons:
“Congratulations to the CTO on achieving this milestone!  It has been 21 years of giving Cape Town beautiful music, wonderful singers and giving the world some amazing talent which came through the Opera company.
We are so looking forward to more productions in the near future and being able to enjoy glorious music both here in South Africa and internationally,” say Mr Raymond and Mrs Wendy Ackerman, Honorary members of the Cape Town Opera Patron programme. 

“I clearly remember Angelo Gobbato announcing the birth of the brand new Cape Town Opera Company – can’t believe it’s 21 years ago!
However my involvement goes back to CTO’s predecessor, 50 years ago, where the brand of world class excellence was created. I am a long standing member of a very special family, as singer, director and patron, with countless memories and highlights of magical moments in the world of opera at the tip of Africa.
Witnessing the training and growth of young talent is an immense pleasure and being a small part of their artist journeys, through productions, teaching and concerts, is a privilege. 
These are challenging times when the very essence of live opera has been disrupted. 
Whatever the difficulties, we constantly have to guard against mediocrity, treasure each precious young vocal instrument, maintain the highest level of training, protect the integrity of each opera and continue showing the world that Cape Town Opera is here to stay.  Happy birthday!” Aviva Pelham 

“Years ago, Laurie was approached by Andrew Ovenstone to become a Patron of the CTO. Although we had not been particularly supportive, we both felt it was culturally important for Cape Town.  We have since grown to love Opera and the stimulation that its performers provide.
We also look forward to the return of normality to our world and in particular, to the return of magnificent shows with our superb performers at the Cape Town Opera.
We congratulate Cape Town Opera on the occasion of your 21st Anniversary and our Best Wishes for an enjoyable and successful future.” Rita & Laurie.

Highlights of CTO’s achievements over the past two decades include our fruitful collaboration with the UCT Opera School in mounting at least one major production per year; 2019 brought an exceptional staging of I Capuleti e i Montecchi in which both companies shone.
The excellent rapport between CTO and the UCT Opera School has resulted in a unanimity of artistic endeavour which in turn has produced rewarding opera as youthful vitality meets seasoned experience.
“21 years is usually associated with ‘coming of age’, yet Cape Town Opera has been providing Cape Town and the wider world with mature and sophisticated productions since its inception in 1999.  I am proud to have started my association with the company in 2012 and thrilled to be working in close partnership with them now in my role as Director of the UCT Opera School.  Despite COVID-19, this is a particularly exciting time for Cape Town Opera and I know I am joined by very many people who are full of anticipation to experience the company’s forthcoming work.
Congratulations CTO!  And may you continue to grow and serve the audiences and artists of South Africa! All the best.” Jeremy Silver, Director of the Opera School, University of Cape Town.

As the world ventures cautiously into unchartered terrain ahead of the present pandemic, CTO is not exempt from the apprehension natural to an opaque future.  The company appreciates and remains committed to ongoing partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders, amongst other CPO, the Baxter Theatre, Artscape, Cape Town City Ballet and Camerata Tinta Barocca.  We thank the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and the Baxter theatre for their wishes: 
 “The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra is a proud partner to Cape Town Opera. Over the past two decades we have been privileged to be part of many ground-breaking and visionary productions, not only locally but also in Europe, the UK, Dubai and Hong Kong. We wish Cape Town Opera an even brighter future and know that it will thrive in spite of the challenging times ahead. Congratulations on 21 exciting years! You’ve earned your prominent place under the African sun.” Louis Heyneman, CEO, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Cape Town Opera not only celebrates its proverbial coming-of-age, it also celebrates resilience, survival, enormous success and artistic excellence on the local and international music and arts stages.
Congratulations on reaching your 21st birthday, please continue with the great work that you do.
The Baxter Theatre Centre is proud of our association with Cape Town Opera.” Fahiem Stellenboom, Marketing Manager, the Baxter Theatre Centre.

CTO’s 21st Anniversary season has had to change radically regarding the planned 2020 opera programme.  The company has embraced technology with enthusiasm as it probes its resources for continued production of opera and is once again meeting the challenges attendant on the pandemic head on by harnessing digital capacity to bring opera to audiences. 
Amongst other is Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Così fan tutte (a collaboration with the UCT Opera school) which will be released in upcoming months and participation in the Australian Behind Doors project sponsored by the Judith Neilson Head Trust, elegantly staged and filmed at venues such as the Casa Labia museum and Quoin Rock wine estate.  We would all probably concur that virtual productions can never replace their live equivalents; however, thanks to the need for innovation in response to COVID-19, opera can hopefully be better served than previously and even enriched through shared dependence on both modes of presentation.

As Africa’s premier opera company, and SA’s largest permanent non-profit performing arts organisation, we have a greater responsibility than most to ensure the continuance of work for many artists, instructors, administrators and practitioners.  It is for this reason that we remain committed, passionate and excited to do all we can to keep this company thriving for yet another 21 years and more.   We are eternally grateful to all for the support of the company over the last 21 years and raise our glasses to each of you! 

CTO’s  Board Chairperson, Mrs Susan Smith chats on Fine Music Radio’s Talking Point programme with presenter Rodney Trudgeon. Click here