The past two quarters have been challenging ones for the opera industry in South Africa, with the imminent closure of Gauteng Opera throwing a harsh spotlight onto the need for more sustained financial support for our professional companies, our training institutions, and our emerging singers.
And while the economic climate remains tough, it gives me great pleasure to unveil CTO’s opera season for the remainder of 2018: a season dedicated to showcasing the depth of our local talent, and to honoring some great South African leaders.
CTO will team up with Artscape and Naspers in July to celebrate the Mandela centenary with two concert performances of Mandela Trilogy, CTO’s widely travelled Madiba tribute. “A very ambitious, highly successful tour de force” (Abendzeitung), Mandela Trilogy has won acclaim in cities including Munich, London, Dubai, Ravenna and Hong Kong, and now returns to South Africa with an all-star cast including Aubrey Lodewyk, Fleur du Cap-winner Edith Plaatjies, Johannes Slabbert and Cecilia Rangwanasha. Siphamandla Moyake and Philisa Sibeko appear as the late, lamented Winnie Mandela, and this production will provide one last chance for local audiences to catch much-loved tenor Lukhanyo Moyake on his home stage before he spreads his wings to join the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera.
As spring arrives, you can look forward to a double dose of Donizetti, celebrating the comic and tragic mastery of this bel canto genius. In August, Don Pasquale will be staged by German director Claudia Blersch, making a welcome return to Cape Town after her hilarious 2017 La Cenerentola, and bringing a slice of sunny Neapolitan life to the Baxter Theatre stage. Produced with the UCT Opera School, Don Pasquale stars Bongani Kubheka, Brittany Smith, Nkululeko Masuku, Lunga Hallam and Luvuyo Mbundu, under the baton of Daniel Montané.
September will see a revival of my own production of Maria Stuarda, Donizetti’s high-drama portrait of the bitter rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. A highlight of the 2015 season, this “sonderlinge opera-ervaring” (Die Burger) offers vocal fireworks and “simply tremendous” chorus singing (Cape Times) under the baton of Kamal Khan.
Our annual Duet Gala concert, with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, in support of the Duet Endowment Trust, will raise the roof of the City Hall this year with Verdi’s mighty Messa da Requiem, on 22 November, conducted by Perry So – a great masterpiece which melds the operatic and the spiritual to hair-raising effect.
Beyond this season, the CTO Chorus looks forward to celebrating Angelo Gobbato at 75 in the CPO’s Passion for Opera with Pretty Yende and friends in June, and to concerts around the Peninsula and further afield. Beyond South African shores, we are gearing up to bring CTO to a whole new market, as Porgy & Bess takes us to South Korea for the first time in September.
Further details of the season, with dates and booking information will be released at www.capetownopera.co.za on Friday 11 May. We look forward to seeing you at the opera!
CTO Artistic Director