Winnie’s latest aria of expertise

2010-12-26 10:16

Through an opera – that is how you tell the story of the complex, charismatic and tragic ­“mother of the nation”, Winnie ­Madikizela-Mandela.

Come April next year, audiences will experience Winnie The Opera, a full-length African opera, based on her life.

There will be no Italian, Spanish or French libretto, but a ­fusion of Xhosa and English, with a classical score performed by a 60-piece orchestra that will incorporate African instruments.

There are so many narratives that can be drawn from her life that opera seems sensibly the most fitting genre to move the audience, says producer Mfundi Vundla.

The man behind the soapie Generations has teamed up with world-renowned composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen and film producer Warren Wilensky.

The opera is set in the 1990s as Madikizela-Mandela appears before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings confronted with accusations of unthinkable crimes.

These charges evoke memories of tragedy and triumph, from being tortured in solitary confinement to becoming the spirit of the struggle.

“She is a very complex character and a major figure in South African and world history. And she has showbiz elements as well as being a tragic and dramatic figure,” says Vundla. “We have her blessing for the opera. It is so wonderful that she is still alive and we are able to look at her legacy,” says ­Vundla.

The name of the South African opera singer who will play the role of Madikizela-Mandela will be announced next month.

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