Cape Town Opera to Give European Premiere of Mandela Trilogy in UK

 Premiere of Mandela Trilogy in UK

Following its triumphant, sell-out debut performances in 2009, Cape Town Opera returns to British shores with a seven-week tour of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. And at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff the company will stage the full production of Mandela Trilogy for just two performances (June 20 and 21) marking its European premiere.

Mandela Trilogy, written and directed by Michael Williams with music by Allan Stephenson, Mike Campbell and Peter Louis van Dijk, is a musical tribute to the legendary Nelson Mandela and dramatises key periods of his extraordinary life in different musical styles. Traditional Xhosa songs and jazz melodies are woven into a classical framework that follows Mandela from a young man in the Transkei to a revolutionary in the townships at the onset of apartheid, to a Robben Island prisoner and to the final walk to freedom. The company brings the celebrated Voice of the Nation Chorus and an entirely South African cast to the UK in a revised version of the production premiered in South Africa in 2010.

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess will follow on June 23 and 24 at the Millennium Centre. In relocating the opera to the depression-ravaged townships of Soweto, Cape Town Opera has made this production of Porgy and Bess its very own, as the search for hope and happiness – amidst poverty and hardship – unfolds in a poignant tale of love and deprivation. Porgy and Bess is one of the great icons of American music theatre, known around the world as ‘the peoples’ opera’. Written in 1935 and originally portraying the 1920s life of America’s Deep South, this compelling work contains some of the most stirring and ever-lasting songs including Summertime, I got plenty of nuttin’, I loves you, Porgy and It ain’t necessarily so.

Cape Town Opera’s collaborative and exchange projects with Wales Millennium Centre are part of a growing legacy of South African businessman and philanthropist, Donald Gordon, after whom the main auditorium is named. As well as the opera company visits to Cardiff, Cape Town Opera’s Voice of the Nation Chorus also has a lifelong relationship with the Centre, having appeared at its grand opening in 2004 and its fifth birthday season. There will be a workshop and educational programme built around the June 2012 performances (more details to follow soon). Cape Town Opera Cape Town Opera (CTO) is the largest performing arts company in South Africa. Since its establishment in 1999, the company has been committed to the continued performance anddevelopment of opera, operetta and musical theatre in South Africa. CTO focuses on performance excellence, audience development and innovation, with the overall goal of increasing the relevance of opera as a performing art form in South Africa. In order to realise this goal, the company’s main objectives are maintaining a full and varied artistic programme of world-class standard, undertaking the training and development of young South African artists and opera practitioners and increasing access to, and appreciation of, opera among the general public in South Africa.

CTO’s production tour of Porgy and Bess will also visit Birmingham Hippodrome (6-9 June), Edinburgh Festival Theatre (15-16 June), Canterbury’s Marlow Theatre (27-30 June), Southampton’s Mayflower (4-7 July), the London Coliseum (11-21 July).

Roger Jones

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