First Proudly South African Opera to premiere

2011-03-30 16:11
The global premiere of Winnie The Opera, the tale of the "the Mother of the Nation" was announced in Johannesburg in December. The show is a unique and proudly South African collaboration by internationally renowned South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, award-winning filmmaker Warren Wilensky, and legendary local producer Mfundi Vundla. It premieres at Pretoria’s State Theatre on 28 April, 2011.

The initial concept for an opera based on the life story of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born in Canada in 2004. Based on the scope of the project, Ndodana-Breen and Wilensky decided that it needed to be developed on home soil, by and for South Africans. It was at this point that they entered into talks with former exile and Generations creator, Mfundi Vundla, who is now a producer and librettist for the project. The Department of Arts and Culture also came on board to provide funding.

The opera focuses on Winnie as she is subpoenaed to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and is confronted by legal counsel who accuse her of unthinkable crimes. Her defiance in the face of these charges evokes her memories from a fragmented life of tragedies and triumphs – from two hundred days of torture in solitary confinement, the sacrifice of her family life for the political struggle, her banishment and painful isolation in Brandfort, and her inspiring of the masses with hope during the darkest times of the struggle.

Bongani Ndodana-Breen, producer and composer on the project, expressed excitement: "It’s a fantastic honour to be part of something that is both artistically rewarding and historically significant. Winnie’s story is so multi-faceted, tragic and inspiring, and the opera stage presents the perfect platform on which to tell it."

Warren Wilensky, producer and librettist, echoed these sentiments, "This is such an important story to tell and we’re thrilled to be able to bring it to a national and international audience. Winnie is truly an icon of South Africa’s chequered past and her story is as compelling as it is relevant."

Mfundi Vundla, producer and librettist, emphasised the importance of the arts in conveying important stories to the public, "As a producer and entertainer, I’m well aware of the power of the arts to inspire and teach. This is such an important chapter in our country’s history, and to be part of such an exciting project, one that serves to convey a truly important message, is a great honour."

Winnie The Opera runs from the 28th of April to the 3rd of May 2011 at the State Theatre in Pretoria. For more information, visit Bookings available through Computicket.

* Win VIP tickets to the premiere of Winnie The Opera at the Pretoria State Theatre.

She gave voice to a time. She gave voice to a place. She gave voice to a people. Love her or hate her… but come and hear her.
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