Making their first-ever UK visit, Cape Town Opera brought their vibrant and heartfelt production of “Porgy and Bess” to Wales Millennium Centre, Edinburgh Festival Theatre and London’s Royal Festival Hall during October 2009. The performances won huge acclaim from audiences and critics alike, with The Times declaring that “on the strength of its glorious Gershwin, Cape Town Opera should be invited back – soon and often”.
Cape Town Opera returned to the UK in June/July 2012 for seven weeks of touring with both “Porgy and Bess” and the European premiere of a new production “Mandela Trilogy – A Musical Tribute to the Life of Nelson Mandela”.
Set in three acts by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin, “Porgy and Bess” is widely regarded as one of the operatic masterpieces of the 20th century, and features much-loved songs such as “Summertime”, “It ain’t necessarily so” and “Bess, you is my woman now”. In the hands of Cape Town Opera, many of whose singers are drawn from the city’s townships, the work has a newfound power and relevance.
From prisoner to president, “Mandela Trilogy” tells the extraordinary life story of Nelson Mandela. Set in three contrasting sections – highlighting Mandela’s traditional upbringing in the Eastern Cape; the turbulent but heady atmosphere of the townships at the onset of Apartheid; and finally Mandela’s long years in prison – the production employs a variety of musical styles, as well as an outstanding cast of over 40 performers, to cast new light on one of the world’s most iconic figures.
Cape Town Opera, a non-profit organisation, inspires, entertains and develops audiences through its acclaimed stage productions, educational outreach and community development programmes and unsurpassed training and skills development initiatives. It boasts a hugely talented ensemble of predominantly black singers and presents an extensive programme of world-class productions. The company is committed to the continued performance and development of opera, operetta and musical theatre in South Africa and aspires to be a source of national pride, enriching the lives of all South Africans. Cape Town Opera is at the forefront of transformation in the performing arts and is regarded as a key-player in providing training and job opportunities to artists from previously disadvantaged communities. These performers often come to Cape Town Opera with little formal training but have a passion for choral singing and a natural ability that shines from stage.
The Cape Town Opera Chorus performs in the company’s main opera productions, educational school tours, public concerts and fundraisers. Their continuing education at Cape Town Opera includes master classes, individual voice lessons, physical training, as well as music and stagecraft instruction. Under the guidance of Chorus Master Albert Horne, the Chorus has performed at numerous local and international venues and events, with an impressive repertoire drawn from diverse genres, and consists of singers drawn from communities across South Africa. The core group of this Chorus is Cape Town Opera’s resident choral group, the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Ensemble, 23 talented singers who are considered the artistic ambassadors for Cape Town Opera’s unique operatic sound, having performed across South Africa and numerous international cities, such as London, Berlin, Munich, Oslo and Paris. The Voice of the Nation Ensemble forms the musical backbone of Cape Town Opera’s productions – not only as the chorus component, but also performing individual, smaller roles.