Opera updated – with selfies

2017-01-31 06:01
Fikile Mvinjelwa returns to Cape Town to perform the title role Marthinus Basson’s fresh and gritty Rigoletto. PHOTO:

Fikile Mvinjelwa returns to Cape Town to perform the title role Marthinus Basson’s fresh and gritty Rigoletto. PHOTO:

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Cape Town Opera is jumping into this year’s season with Verdi’s gritty Rigoletto.

Award-winning director Marthinus Basson will present a contemporary staging of this piece and place themes of power, money, corruption, abuse, misogyny and prejudice in an African context.

“I think human nature is pretty set and sophistication only a very thin veneer,” Marthinus says. “When I was a schoolboy I started reading the Roman classics and satires. From these I learned that things had not ­really changed much over 2000 years, only our technology.”

Indeed technology plays an integral part in Rigoletto, with characters on stage talking on cellphones, taking selfies and filming videos. Eyes are everywhere, watching, and even the audience doesn’t avoid the omniscient gaze.

Metropolitan Opera regular Fikile Mvinjelwa returns to Cape Town to perform the title role. A founder member of the Cape Town Opera Studio, Fikile left South Africa to pursue a successful international career. Opera fans will recall his performance of Rigoletto at Athlone’s Joseph Stone Auditorium in 2008. He understudied Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2008/2009 season and it is a role to which he often returns.

Marthinus is also working with a cast of South Africa’s foremost young singers, and says: “I find it very inspiring to work with such a host of dedicated and talented singers who are willing, able and open to try out anything you throw at them.”

Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition finalist Lukhanyo Moyake sings the role of the Duke of Mantua with what Marthinus describes as “a wonderful and wicked charm” while Noluvuyiso Mpofu, who came second in last year’s competition, takes the role of Gilda. This is the last chance to see Noluvuyiso perform as a member of Cape Town Opera before she launches her international freelance career. V Rigoletto will be on stage at Artscape Theatre on Saturday 11, Tuesday 14, Thursday 16 and Saturday 18 February. Tickets are available from Computicket. This production is not for children younger than 16.

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