Wednesday, March 14, 2012 'SA Opera fit for international stage'

[ZIYANKOMO & BRAVO; J. S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932)]

The South African Composer, Arranger & Choral Director J. S.Mzilikazi Khumalo is also a Professor Emeritus of African Languages. He was born June 20, 1932 and is profiled at

March 14 2012 
By Paul Boekkooi 

OPERA: Ziyankomo and the Forbidden Fruit by Phelelani Mnomiya (composer) and Themba Msimang (libretto) 


OPERATIC BOUQUET: Bravo Opera Africa, conceived and directed by Angelo Gobbato

CONDUCTOR: Timothy Myers
SET DESIGNS: Themi Venturas (Ziyankomo) and Stan Knight (Bravo Opera Africa)

PIANIST: Paul Ferreira
ORCHESTRA: Johannesburg Philharmonic
CHORUS: Opera Africa
CAST: Fikile Mvinjelwa, Kelebogile Boikanyo, Given Nkosi, Aubrey Lodewyk, Thembisile Twala, Goitsemang Lehobye, Caroline Modiba, Themba Maseko, Thando Zwane a.o.
This is the kind of production you would have wished the whole world could experience, and, if not, at least everyone in South Africa. It has often been said before: we have per capita some of the greatest young singers in the world.

This staging in two parts – the world premiere of Ziyankomo and the Forbidden Fruit, a newly commissioned opera by Phelelani Mnomiya and Themba Mnsimang, and the eight-part operatic bouquet Bravo Opera Africa celebrating the company’s 18th birthday – is a brilliant showcase of our post-apartheid, first generation opera singers. All of them are riding the crest of their individual artistic waves.

Ziyankomo, sung in Zulu, is historic. It has the kind of universal values which will stand the test of time. There are many interwoven themes in the text, like pride, forgive- ness, the law, and that royalty (implying government as well) must obey it, power which corrupts, and the question: shouldn’t ingrained customs leading to tragic conse- quences be constantly reconsidered and, if necessary, altered?

This is a finely chiselled ensemble opera with a basic love story and, at times, a playful irony. There is a kind of tragic ending, but it never bogs the listener down to the level where rituals take over. The masks are intriguing. The singing, individually and in ensemble, is inspiring.”

From Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Mzilikazi Khumalo’s Princess Magogo, the tour through opera history also includes Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Gounod’s Faust, Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s La Bohème and Rigoletto and La Traviata by Verdi.” “At the Opera, SA State Theatre, until Saturday. At the Joburg Theatre from March 23 to 31.”

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