Cape Town Opera Celebrates 15th Anniversary this Year
2014 sees Cape Town Opera celebrating its fifteenth year as South Africa's premiere opera company. From its home in Southern Africa to countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Israel, the United States and Australia, Cape Town Opera has thrilled audiences across the globe. Acclaimed for the vibrant vocalism and high-octane stage performances of its artists, Cape Town Opera's soloists and chorus continue to win the hearts of local and international critics and opera-lovers while proudly flying the South African flag and showcasing this country's wealth of talent. Michael Williams, Cape Town Opera's Managing Director reflects on this young company's history, "Our survival would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors and especially the National Lotteries Distribution Trust fund, the audience, our talented singers and staff members. Equally important are the valuable collaborations we've forged with international opera companies. However we not only have to think more globally, we have to become more entrepreneurial in the way we run the company; it is after all a business, and that means balancing high quality with low overheads to survive."
Not only is it the celebratory year for this esteemed opera company but also one of its busiest to date. Two concerts at the Artscape Opera House on 2 and 3 May by internationally acclaimed award-winning Welsh opera bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, who has performed in all the great opera houses of the world, is one of the biggest highlights of this anniversary year. With a GRAMMY Award, a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music to his name, Terfel is one of the most sought-after opera singers in the world. Terfel will be accompanied by the Cape Town Opera chorus and the 70-strong voices of the Wales Millennium Centre's Only Kids Aloud Chorus. Kamal Khan will conduct the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Wales Millennium Centre and Cape Town Opera enjoy a mutually beneficial partnership that spans a decade. As part of this unique collaboration, the combined 120 voices will sing the world premiere of "Spirit of Unity", a piece especially commissioned by Wales Millennium Centre, written by Dr Paul Mealor is a gift from the people of Wales to mark South Africa's 20 years of Democracy. Terfel is currently co-starring opposite double Oscar winner and Hollywood star, Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
In February, members of Cape Town Opera's Chorus, winners of the Best Chorus Award at the 2013 International Opera Awards, performed across the Indian Ocean as part of an international artistic collaboration fostered by the Perth International Arts Festival, Australia. South Africa's "operatic ambassadors", the Cape Town Opera Chorus proudly performed alongside the West Australian Opera chorus to the sounds of the esteemed Western Australia Symphony Orchestra in a tri-nation production of Verdi's opera, Otello, a collaboration between Cape Town Opera and five south Atlantic opera companies.
The ever-popular critically acclaimed musical, Kern/Hammerstein II's Show Boat opens at the Opera House at Artscape, Cape Town for four performances only from 16 to 18 May 2014 prior to the production's tour to the United Kingdom from 2 July to 2 August 2014. Cape Town Opera's production of Show Boat has enjoyed several triumphant seasons since its South African premiere in 2005. The show has received nightly standing ovations in Cape Town, Nürnberg, Oslo, Sweden and Paris. This collaboration between Cape Town Opera and the Wales Millennium Centre features an all-South African cast accompanied by the 30-piece Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Albert Horne and Gareth Jones to theatres in Birmingham, Wales, Manchester and Dublin. The combination of the Cape Town Opera's chorus gutsy rendition of Ol' Man River, the witty and glamorous production, the over one hundred period costumes and the stylish set has made Cape Town Opera's production a winner wherever it tours. "Within a few minutes the performance by the South African ensemble was halted by spontaneous applause in between the scenes ... the ice was broken and the showboat was sailing on this wave of goodwill," says the Nürnberger Zeitung of Show Boats exemplary performances.
Since 2004 Cape Town Opera has successfully toured its productions of Porgy & Bess, Show Boat, Mandela Trilogy and Treemonisha to opera houses in Europe. This year's international season began with January performances of African Angels (in cooperation with Senf Theaterpartners and Global Performing Arts Group) in the Netherlands and Belgium. Also in January, Porgy & Bess (in collaboration with Opera National de Bordeaux) played in France. This company's South African township-set production returns to Europe in July with performances in Spain in collaboration with the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. This production of Porgy and Bess has been seen in Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel; in 2012 a hugely successful six city tour of the UK culminated in a two week run at London's Coliseum, and a few weeks later the company performed the work in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle at Berlin's Philharmonie.