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August 18, 2009

Explore the opera in Cape Town

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The Elixir of Love will be showing at the Baxter Theatre from August 23-29. Photo by Stuart Ralph

Cape Town’s music echoes its long history as a free-spirited, cosmopolitan, creolised port city. 

From the ramkie (a guitar with three or four strings) originally played by the Khoi-San people, to Western music played by slave orchestras and travelling mixed-blood musicians, to British marching bands, gospel , and uniquely South African jazz, our sounds and rhythms make us what we are. Abdullah Ibrahim’s masterpiece Manenberg, recorded with Cape jazz greats such as Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, was considered one of the greatest South African compositions ever and became the unofficial soundtrack to the anti-apartheid movement. 

Creative Cape Town, of the Cape Town Partnership, launched the Goemarati programme in response to goema – the sound of the Cape Minstrel Carnival and of Cape jazz.  Goemarati was originally funded by the provincial government of the Western Cape and focused on showcasing music, food and cultural products. The genres include electronic, dub (reggae and ragga inspired), house music, hip-hop (the Cape Town version, positive and local without a gang orientation) and local versions of house like spaza music (similar to kwaito). 

Cape Town Opera’s Encore initiative is a membership programme aimed at encouraging young professionals between the ages of 20 and 39 to explore opera and to challenge how it has traditionally been perceived by young people. 

They are launching two exciting productions that will appeal to a broad audience.  The Elixir of Love, by Donizetti, will be showing at the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch from August 23-29, 2009.  A charming comedy, it tells the story of Nemorino, who is head over heels in love with the beautiful Adina.  He is shy and awkward, she is unattainable and he vies for her attention with a dashing army officer. And this is where the dubious doctor’s love potion or elixir of love comes in…

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The Elixir of Love opera. Photo by Stuart Ralph

Dead Man Walking is based on the bestselling novel by Sister Helen Prejean and the subsequent Oscar-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. It tells the story of Sister Helen’s role as spiritual advisor to the convicted murderer of a teenage couple and her emotional journey leading up to his execution. The production draws on classical music, rock, jazz and Afro-American spirituals.  An overnight success in the USA, it has been the fastest-selling opera production in recent history. 

Dead Man Walking will be showing at the Artscape Opera House in four performances only on October 16, 22, 24 and 30, 2009.  Ticket prices start at R150.00 and tickets can be bought through Computicket. 

Opera-goers can make a special occasion of it and stay overnight at the luxurious Table Bay Hotel, located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront, framed between Table Mountain and Robben Island. Cosmopolitan, gracious and relaxed, the Table Bay is the sum of all that is good about its home town.

Begin with afternoon tea in The Lounge, sip champagne in The Pool Bar and try out the new menu at the Atlantic Grill. Or get pampered at The Camelot Health Spa so you feel and look great when you get to the opera. For further information on the Table Bay Hotel visit the website at www.suninternational.com/Destinations/Hotels/TableBay or call + 27 (0)21 406 5000. 

What’s playing in Cape Town this week?

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The Table Bay Hotel, photo courtesy Ian Junor

  • Elixir of Love at the Baxter Theatre, August 23-29.
  • Bokino Dyer Trio at The Green Dolphin Restaurant on Tuesday, August 18 from 20h00 until 23h55. Cover charge R30.00.
  • Claire Phillips is playing at the Kirstenbosch Winter Concert on Sunday August 23 and Verity the week thereafter on Sunday August 30. Tickets are R90.00 per person.
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  • Go and see the Cotton Club Moves at On Broadway, now showing until September 5, 2009. It celebrates the music of great entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Nat King Cole. Ticket prices start at R85.00 per person.

For further information on the history of music in Cape Town and South Africa visit www.southafrica.info/about/arts/.

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