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INTERDICT AGAINST OPERA AFRICA FAILS (article first published : 2003-01-22)

The show will go on - at least for now. Judge Noel Hurt refused to grant an application in the High Court, Pietermaritzburg, yesterday to stop Opera Africa and African Opera Productions staging Princess Magogo, the opera based on the life of the mother of Home Affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Four performances of Princess Magogo are scheduled for the State Theatre in Pretoria between February 1 and 7. The opera, which premiered in Durban last May, was then due to go international with performances in Chicago in March. However, it was announced in court yesterday that the trip has been cancelled, at the request of the American hosts.

Bringing the application to prevent Princess Magogo being performed were the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Durban Serenade Choral Society and five of the soloists from the original production, including the KZNPO's CEO Bongani Tembe and his wife, Linda Bukhosini. The applicants said they had the right of first refusal to perform in any productions of Princess Magogo for five years from the date of the premiere.

It was claimed by Opera Africa that this right had been given under threat when the orchestra and soloists threatened to walk out on the day of the premiere last year unless their contracts stipulated this first refusal. The judge said he felt this matter should be decided on oral evidence.

Because of the imminent Pretoria season of the opera, the applicants' advocate, David Gordon SC, said that a decision on the interdict to prevent further performances was urgent. Judge Hurt expressed concern over the plight of the performers engaged for Pretoria as well as the potential audience if he were to grant the application and said he would not make the order. He will give the reasons for his decision when he gives judgement on January 29.

When the court adjourned, Sandra de Villiers, the CEO of Opera Africa expressed relief that she could now go ahead with arrangements for the State Theatre performances. - Margaret von Klemperer




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