Saturday, April 30, 2011

Guardian (UK): 'Winnie the Opera mixes classical and African music performed by the KwaZulu-Natal philharmonic orchestra.'

[The Soweto-born soprano singer Tsakane Maswanganyi performs the lead role in Winnie the Opera. Photograph: Themba Hadebe/AP]

South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen sends us this review:

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela understood to have given English- and Xhosa-language opera her blessing ahead of Pretoria debut

Louise Redvers in Johannesburg
Friday April 29 2011
The Guardian

“The opening night of Winnie the Opera won a standing ovation, but the biggest cheer of the night was for Mrs Madikizela-Mandela herself, as she took to the stage saying the moment had 'surpassed all previous accolades'. The 74-year-old sat among family and friends at the State Theatre in Pretoria to watch last night's world premiere of the much-anticipated opera which tells the story of her life as the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and her role in the country's anti-apartheid struggle.

“As the curtain came down, she was escorted to the stage to beam at the audience, who broke into chants of "amandla" power. 'In all my career of fighting, I've never been short of words, but tonight I am,' she said. 'This is the first time I have got such accolades from my country, this surpasses anything I have known.' Praising the young, all-South-African cast, Madikizela-Mandela said: 'This reminds us as leaders what we fought for and sacrificed so much. I am glad and proud that this production had its world premiere in our nation's capital.'”

“Winnie the Opera mixes classical and African music performed by the KwaZulu-Natal philharmonic orchestra. The South African-Canadian producer and librettist Warren Wilensky said: 'This is such an important story to tell. Winnie is truly an icon of South Africa's chequered past and her story is as compelling as it is relevant.' Winnie the Opera runs until 3 May at the State Theatre in Pretoria. An international tour is expected, although no details have been announced.

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