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PRINCESS MAGOGO OPERA (article first published : 2006-02-20)

Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the highly acclaimed first Zulu opera which is based in Durban and has been rehearsing at the Playhouse, will tour throughout South African before going abroad later this year.

It is through the libretto of Themba Msimang, the music of composer Mzilikazi Khumalo and the orchestration, arrangements and additional music by Michael Hankinson, that the story of Princess Magogo’s life is told. Princess Magogo, the mother of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is celebrated for her role as the first female imbongi (praise singer). The cast is headed up by the world-class mezzo-soprano and jazz singer Sibongile Khumalo. As a teenager, she often sat with Princess Magogo listening to her play the ugubhu (a single string gourd bow).

The opera premiered in Durban in 2002 to wide applause. It was broadcast live by the Chicago-based WFMT Radio and Networks across the US and syndicated via the European Broadcast Union to many European countries. The opera was then performed at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Its American premiere was at the launching of the centennial season of the prestigious Ravinia Festival in Chicago.

Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu is now back in South Africa for a national tour produced by African Renaissance Opera Productions and funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. “Its aim is to make this historical opera available to a wider audience, by bringing audiences from previously disadvantaged communities to the opera,” says Professor Khumalo.

With 40 choristers, 16 dancers and nine soloists, the epic scale of this opera cannot be achieved easily. From the start of this production, executive producer Sandra de Villiers headed a formidable team. They included artistic director Themi Venturas, designer Andrew Verster, choreographer Bongani Zulu and music director Hein de Villiers.

The national tour starts at the prestigious Spier Estate in Stellenbosch from February 24 to 26 before moving to the Fancourt Premier Golfing Estate on March 4. There will be further performances in the Feathermarket Centre in Port Elizabeth on March 11 and 12 and the tour comes to a close in Soweto at the Grace Bible Church on March 17 and 18 before it heads for its European premiere at the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam in May.

More information from Glam Slam on 011 646 4644.




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