Sunday, November 21, 2010 Karen Rutter Reviews 'Hani': 'The Struggle Continues'

[Chris Hani]
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nov 21, 2010 12:00 AM | By Karen Rutter
Writing an opera about assassinated leader Chris Hani sounds a bit like creating a musical about Anne Frank. You know how it's going to end, and it's not pretty.” “But it turns out, we are in good hands. Composer Bongani Ndondana-Breen and librettist Mfundi Vundla have partnered on a production that steers away from the literal, and instead provides a 'meditative excursion', as Vundla puts it. Hani forms part of Five:20, a unique collaboration between the University of Cape Town Opera School, Cape Town Opera and the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts.

“The work consists of five 20-minute operas written, composed and directed by local opera heavyweights to celebrate the South African College of Music's centenary. Other topics tackled are Saartjie Baartman, Lucy Lloyd and the San Bushmen, xenophobia, and Breyten Breytenbach's prison poetry. 'Hani moves into the world of the unconscious,' explains Vundla. 'It calls upon the spirit of Chris Hani to help us navigate in this new South Africa.' He explains that in African culture, the spirits of the ancestors play an important part in the guidance of those who are still living on earth.”

“Collaborating with Ndondana-Breen, an internationally acclaimed composer whose work has been performed around the world, was a 'stimulating experience', he says. 'We got to be friends. He introduced me to minimalist composers - Philip Glass, Steve Reich. We went back and forth, exchanging ideas. He helped me with the form.'" “Among the composers are Peter Klatzow, Hendrik Hofmeyr, Bongani Ndondana-Breen, Peter Louis van Dijk and Martin Watt. On at the Baxter Theatre from November 21 to 27.

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