Desando's Cantiamo kicks off season

Joburg Theatre dusts off cobwebs with opera show

With the country already on Covid-19 alert level 1, theatre establishments are slowly opening their doors for the public to watch live shows.

As indoor social gatherings are limited to 250 persons, some theatres have taken a chance of opening for shows, while others still contemplate opening next year. Joburg Theatre, in Braamfontein, has returned to the thick of things, opening doors to the public with Cantiamo Mzansi Opera Celebration. The show opens at Mandela Theatre on October 23. Directed by Marcus Tebogo Desando, the production features the internationally renowned voices of Kimmy Skota, Kelebogile Besong, Thesele Kemane and Phenye Modiane.

Desando, whose opera music journey began in 1989, plans to take the audience on a beautiful exploration of a performance that features music such as I Puritani  by Vincenzo  Bellini, Don Giovanni  by Wolfgang  Mozart and La Traviata, a composition by Giuseppe Verdi. Cantiamo will also feature extracts from the works of SA composers such as the late Phelelani Mnomiya’s opera  Ziyankomo and The Forbidden Fruit as well as Princess Magogo by Mzilikazi Khumalo.

Desando, who is also the artistic producer of the show, said: “Sadly, the pandemic has curtailed the ability of artists everywhere to perform for live audiences, but it’s to Joburg Theatre’s credit that we will have an opportunity in October to celebrate one of South Africa’s most valuable national treasures, our operatic voices.The idea of Cantiamo was born out of Joburg Theatre’s commitment to presenting a diversity of art forms and, as our opera talent is sought-after worldwide, I jumped at the opportunity to put together this celebration. In addition to a range of beloved opera excerpts, we are featuring some beautiful work by a number of local composers, including Mzilikazi Khumalo and Phelelani, who sadly passed away unexpectedly in August.”

Joburg City Theatre's CEO Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema said about the show: “Widely recognised as one of the biggest theatre venues in the country for staging both Broadway musicals and home-grown productions, we thought it would be timely this spring to celebrate opera, one of the most popular musical genres in the world. We are particularly looking forward to welcoming our loyal audiences back to the theatre to enjoy these internationally recognised voices of Mzansi.”

Meanwhile, Soweto Theatre in Jabulani opens the season officially to the public with its Solos and Duets show that starts on October 22.

The Market Theatre in Newtown will also join others as it opens its doors in December with the award-winning production Xova by Joseph Komani. The South African State Theatre in Pretoria plans to open its doors for the public at the end of next month.

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