Stabat Mater

Cape Town Opera in collaboration with Cape Town City Ballet, Camerata Tinta Barocca and Wyrd Films presents Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Only 5 years after making his debut in the UK, young South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November has been recognised at the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards, taking home the Olivier Award for Best Dance Production for his work Ingoma at an online ceremony last week. November grew up in Xolani township in the Western Cape, and started dancing with Dance For All before enrolling at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA). He made his debut as a choreographer for the Cape Dance Company (where he also appeared as a dancer), before spreading his wings in London. When COVID-19 lockdowns scuppered November’s plans to visit South Africa in mid-2020, he accepted an invitation from Cape Town Opera, Cape Town City Ballet and Camerata Tinta Barocca to choreograph an abridged version of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. “The Stabat Mater reflects on the suffering of Mary at the Crucifixion, encompassing a wide range of emotions from grief to hope” says CTO Artistic Director Matthew Wild. “It seemed the perfect vehicle for a physically distanced dance film, created within the restrictions of South Africa’s level 4 lockdown, and which reflected on loss and hope in the midst of a global pandemic.” With November unable to travel, he choreographed the work entirely over video call, with six dancers from Cape Town City Ballet learning the work in isolation in their homes. Produced by Wyrd Films, and shot by Director of Photography Dewet van Rooyen, the Stabat Mater was filmed at Mothership Studios in one day, with the dancers, singers and musicians coming together at the last minute, and maintaining distance with the help of a large floor grid. The film showcases moving performances by singers Brittany Smith and Ané Pretorius, dancers Miles Carrott, Jan Kotze, Nicolas Laubscher, Mandla Mokoena, Kirstel Paterson and Gemma Trehearn Erik Dippenaar directs the players of the period-instrument orchestra Camerata Tinta Barocca, captured in excellent sound by recording engineer Gerhard Roux. The Stabat Mater is available to watch on-demand through Computicket for the whole month of November, at a ticket price of R110. Thanks to the City of Cape Town and the Rupert Music Foundation for their support of this project.