- SA Opera partners with Germans

- SA Opera partners with Germans

In an exciting coup for the South African opera industry, German opera company Theater Erfurt will be bringing its production of La Traviata to Pretoria in July to launch its three-year partnership with Opera Africa and The SA State Theatre.

This groundbreaking tripartite cultural exchange agreement, coordinated by Xoliswa Ngema, CEO of the SA State Theatre, and Hein Marx, Director Opera Africa, will see the German opera house bringing out top international singers, conductors and directors. Theater Erfurt will be mounting its productions at The SA State Theatre in conjunction with its South African coproduction partners, Opera Africa and The SA State Theatre.

This exchange partnership will kick off with Giuseppe Verdi’s popular opera La Traviata, which will be staged at The SA State Theatre Opera House in Pretoria from 22 to 31 July 2010.

Fresh from European stages, the Theater Erfurt production comes to The SA State Theatre and will star international principals Marisca Mulder as Violetta and Erik Fenton as Alfredo. The conductor is Walter Attanasi and the stage direction will be headed by Theater Erfurt’s Guy Montavon. La Traviata will also feature local South African opera singers Kelebogile Boikanyo and Rouel Beukes(in photo), Aubrey Lodewyk and Otto Maidi, as well as the Opera Africa Chorus that recently performed in Opera Africa’sacclaimed La Bohème.

Expect beautiful European sets and costumes to complement the romance and drama of the plot. “This is a significant achievement and an exciting coup for South African opera, as it means that our own artists will be exposed to the finest international expertise,” says Sandra de Villiers, CEO of Opera Africa. “Working with an international company of such stature will go a long way towards helping secure the future of opera in South Africa, developing audiences and creating sustainable work for our artists; an undertaking that enjoys the full support of the Goethe Institute and the German Embassy”.

Xoliswa Ngema , CEO of The SA State Theatre states: “The SA State Theatre is excited about the partnership with Theater Erfurt and Opera Africa. Gauteng audiences must brace themselves for a world-class production. We are also looking forward to exchange programs for South African artists to take a bit of South Africa to Germany.”

The agreement will also serve to increase the frequency of full-scale professional opera productions staged at The SA State Theatre, which has been limited in the past due to financial constraints. At least two opera productions per year will be staged at The SA State Theatre by Theater Erfurt, in association with Opera Africa, starting with the Verdi’s La Traviata, one of the most popular and enduring stories in the operatic repertoire.

With an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, La Traviata literally means “the fallen woman” and tells the stirring tale of Violetta, an ailing Parisian courtesan who falls in love with a young nobleman, Alfredo. Verdi in fact created history’s first major opera dealing with a contemporary social theme that proved unpalatable for the audience at its Venice premiere in 1853.

The partnership marks the latest step in Theater Erfurt’s collaborative journey, spearheaded by Guy Montavon, its CEO. Located in the picturesque medieval town of Erfurt in central Germany, the opera house was built in 2003 and has since become renowned for its innovative, ambitious repertoire. Furthermore, Theater Erfurt cultivates interchanges with various opera houses around the world through co-productions, and thus increasingly continues to distinguish itself internationally.

In 2005, Theater Erfurt commissioned and hosted the world premiere of the two-act opera Waiting for the Barbarians (Wartenauf die Barbaren), composed by Philip Glass with libretto by Christopher Hampton and based on South African-born Nobel prize-winning author JM Coetzee’s 1980 novel of the same name.

Booking for La Traviata is open at Computicket.

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