Cape Town Opera launches new season

The Cape Town Opera Chorus at the 2022 season launch.

Cape Town Opera launched its programme for this year at an event at Makers’ Landing, at Cape Town Cruise Terminal, yesterday, Thursday February 24.

Artistic director Magdalene Minnaar, who was appointed on January 1 this year, said she and Cape Town Opera were ready to contribute to the well-being of the arts in a post-Covid-19 environment.

“Cape Town Opera has chosen the theme of diversity, sustainability and creativity this year,” said Ms Minnaar.

“I am convinced that we remain one of the most diverse opera companies in the world and we continuously challenge ourselves in this regard.

“As for sustainability, Cape Town Opera has already proven its mettle by not only making it through the trials and tribulations of Covid-19 but by actually presenting eight full-length operas in the past two years, unheard of for an opera company in this time. With an eye to the future, we intend to continue to do whatever we do in the most sustainable manner possible. We shall harness our in-house and individual creativity and explore the tremendous talent we have available locally, including directors and designers.

“We have to attend to the entire ecology of opera in determining our priorities, so we shall explore creative ways of serving our audiences and expanding the reach of opera to all in our country,” she said.

To kick off the season, Cape Town Opera presents a new offering in March called Opera Blocks, intended for babies from birth to 18 months.

This production uses the expertise of an occupational therapist, music, song and play, which are brought together in a calm, immersive environment on the stage to stimulate, entertain and spark imagination in the little ones and hopefully instil in them a life-long passion for opera.

Under the guidance of Marvine Kernelle, the Cape Town Opera Chorus will present Icons – a concert of evergreen operatic choruses including the Anvil Chorus, Slave Chorus, Humming Chorus and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Opera lovers throughout the city can look forward to attending Icons in person as the chorus will undertake day tours to towns.

Some of the other highlights of the 2022 season include:

  • , a pairing of music and food under the musical direction of José Dias, which will take place in collaboration with the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

Chef Mike Bassett will cook up Bernstein’s La Bonne Cuisine: Four Recipes for Voice and Piano and Bach’s Coffee Cantata as hors d’oeuvres and main course.

For dessert, Fleur du Cap award-winning soprano Janelle Visagie will tantalise the tastebuds with Julia Child’s “deliciously decadent” chocolate cake recipe, reincarnated as a musical monologue by American Composer Lee Hoiby from a transcript of an episode of The French Chef.

  • During Easter, Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Brandon Philips and starring the Cape Town Opera Chorus, soloists and young artists, will present Handel’s celebrated at the historic Toringkerk in Paarl.

Organist Mario Nell will play the church’s Norman and Beards organ, manufactured in 1906 in Norwich, England.

  • The Duet Gala Concert, a fundraising collaboration between Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and a highlight of the season, will take place in June in the Artscape Opera House.

The line-up will consist of South African singers performing music ranging from Puccini to Wagner. German-Polish conductor Adam Szmidt will conduct the concert.

  • In June, there will be a full-scale opera with Mozart’s opera buffa masterpiece . Ms Minnar said: “In many ways, is the perfect opera. It offers a good dollop of farce, adultery, role-playing and cunning scheming. It also touches, however, on abuse and mental health issues, as seen in the Countess’s poignant navigation of her fracturing marriage.”
  • In October, touring production y Donizetti will be staged.

One of the most performed operas worldwide, L’elisir d’amore follows the capricious courtship of the clumsy yet charming Nemorino and the beautiful Adina and boasts one of the most famous tenor arias of all time, Una furtiva lagrima.

Both tours, as well as the Duet Gala Concert, are in collaboration with the Judith Neilson Head Trust.

  • In November, Cape Town Opera in collaboration with the University of Cape Town Opera School will present at the Artscape.

Alcina is a spellbinding tale of a sorceress put to the test by true love.

  • The Cape Town Opera Youth Development and Education Department will leave for its annual National Schools Tour this weekend. The team of nine, which includes a project manager, five professional singers, one pianist and two drivers, will travel across the country and present workshops to participants of the ABC Motsepe South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE).

The tour focuses on developing young opera singers in South Africa and assists pupils with the SASCE repertoire.

This year also sees the Youth Development and Education team continuing their work with the Foundation Studio, a programme offering free theory of music, piano and voice lessons to selected high school pupils in disadvantaged areas. The goal of the programme is to help bridge the gap to subject music pupils.

  • Cape Town Opera has also launched an innovative educational project for all opera practitioners, from singers to coaches, to production and technical staff, called OperaLAB. It is a year-long free weekly workshop that aims to inspire and assist the next generation to bridge the gap between tertiary education and the professional environment. Through a series of workshops presented by industry professionals, graduates will get the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to progress seamlessly to the professional stage.

At the event, the company’s latest intake of Young Artists, a training and employment programme for talented young singers, were formally introduced: Monica Mhangwana (mezzo-soprano), Alida Stoman, (soprano), and Van Wyk Venter (baritone) join Lwazi Dlamini (baritone), who is in the second year of the programme.

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