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OPERA IN GRAHAMSTOWN (article first published : 2001-05-23)

Say hello to Toloki is one of the songs from a new jazzopera called Love and Green Onions based on Zakes Mda's award-winning novel Ways of Dying. The jazzopera premières on June 28, the first night of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for music Fikile Mvinjelwa sings Toloki, a professional mourner who finds happiness in the arms of the lively Noria, sung by jazz diva Gloria Bosman.

The director is Michael Williams, who also created the book and lyrics, and the music was composed by Denzil Weale. The cast includes eight young singers and the full 24-voice Cape Town Opera (CTO) Vocal Ensemble. Love and Green Onions has the makings of a South African classic.

Another operatic treat is An Evening with Verdi which follows the format of Angelo Gobbato's sell-out series at the Baxter Concert Hall in January. During his lifetime, Verdi's work was so popular he was frequently mobbed by frenzied fans. Professor Gobbato, head of CTO, will recount anecdotes from the maestro's life and explain the huge power of the most often-heard operas.

A selection of evergreens will be sung by soprano Natalie Dixon, mezzo Miranda Tini, tenor Derrick Ellis and baritones Fikile Mvinjelwa and Xolela Sixaba, supported by the CTO Vocal Ensemble.

The 2001 Standard Bank National Arts Festival runs from 28 June to 7 July. A comprehensive free Booking Kit is available from select branches of the Standard Bank (for information, ring the Festival hotline 0861 20 2000). Book by post (details in the Booking Kit), through Computicket, Teletix or the internet (http://www.sbfest.co.za).




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