libretto: by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa,
Venue: The Mandela, Joburg Theatre
Dates: 18. 20, 22, 23 July 2017
Duration: 2hrs, 30 min (with interval)
Khayakazi Madlala is a young soprano born and bred in the Eastern Cape who is pursuing a career in the arts (music). She started singing when she was in her 7th grade at Mariazell high school under the baton of Mr. S.Gecelo. She participated in the school competition SASCE until she passed her matric.
In 2015 Khayakazi was given a chance to be part of Gauteng Opera in various productions and concerts including La Traviata in concert, Cula Mzansi and Double Bill just to mention a few. She is currently a trainee at the Gauteng Opera Academy.
Lindo Maso was born on March 6th 1995 in Cape-Town at a well- known township called Nyanga. His passion for singing started in 2008 upon joining a Sunday school choir and he had never looked back since then. Between the years 2011 and 2012 he participated as one of the Choristers in a local choir at the NCF (National Choir Festival) where he discovered his true Love for opera.
While attending his Matric in Cape Town (2012), Lindo began taking Private Lessons with Prof Sidwill Hartmann. In January 2015 Lindo moved to Johannesburg where he began working with the CEO of Gauteng Opera, Marcus Desando, as his vocal coach. At Gauteng opera Lindo participated as an ad-hoc chorus member in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata and in 3 new South African operas, rendered under the company’s banner Cula Mzansi.
Lindo is a Chorister at The Johannesburg Bach Choir, and is a full time trainee of Gauteng Opera Academy (2016) under the Guidance of Marcus Desando.
Phenye Modiane was born and bred in Ga-Rankuwa. He started singing at an early age, in school choirs, church choir and community choirs. He matriculated at Modiri high school in 2002. In 2002, he represented North West Province at the Tirisano School Choir Eisteddfod (now called SASCE) as a solo tenor, under the guidance of the late Mrs J.C Motshwane. In 2003, he enrolled at Tshwane University of Technology under the guidance of Pierre du Toit.
There he sang in various choruses including school choruses, Salon Music and Opera Africa choruses. And also did the roles of Conte Ivrea in Un Giorno di Regno and Gherrardo in Gianni Schicchi, both school productions. He completed his Btech in Vocal Art in 2006. In 2011, he sang the role of El Ramendado in the Opera Africa production of Carmen.
In March 2012, he sang the role of Guard in the newly composed opera of Ziyankomo by Mr Phelelani Mnomiya. He sang as a soloist in the BTE VO1SS production of Kyk hier staan ‘n nuwe mens and the Verdi Gala. Currently he is a member of Forté and he is also busy with his BMus Hons through Universty of Pretoria.
Solly Motaung is a bass-baritone singer who has performed the role of Doctor Grenvil in la Traviata with Gauteng Opera. Born in Hammanskraal/Stinkwater near Pretoria, he started singing from a young age at school. Because of his enthusiasm in this genre of music he received solo parts in choirs during competitions.
During matric he auditioned for the Incubator scheme of The Black Tie Ensemble and started his studies in 2012, with Eric Muller as his voice teacher. During his three years of study, Solly was part of the opera chorus in many Black Tie productions and concerts and joined the company on school tours, directed by Marcus Desando. A highlight of 2014 was being part of Gauteng Opera’s production of Cosi fan tutte.
Solly has also played the role of Figaro in the opera Le nozze di Figaro. Although not a student anymore, he still works vocally with Eric Muller and tries to perform as much as possible. Recently, he was part of an elite ensemble for Gauteng Opera’s Forté in Concert at the Linder Auditorium last year. He is now part of the company as junior soloist.
Chuma Sijeqa (23) born in Phomolong, Tembisa, is a Vocal Art Btech graduate at the Tshwane University of Technology. He started singing choral music at Phomolong Primary school and continued until his secondary level. After completing Secondary school, he enrolled at the Department of Performing Arts (TUT) in 2013, driven by love and passion for classical music.
In 2013 he participated in Gauteng Opera’s Verdi Gala as a chorus member and sang in the chorus of the TUT Student production of Faust (C. Gounod). Chuma received a main role as Don Magnifico in the 2014 TUT production of La Cenerentola (G. Rossini) and in the same year he part of the Master Class facilitated by Barbara Hill Moore, the role of Falstaff for the 2015 production by the same title (G. Verdi) and also the role of Don Alfonso in the 2016 TUT production of Cosi fan Tutte (W.A. Mozart). He is a versatile artist, constantly broadening his field of experience by trying out new forms within the art.
Chuma also took part in a musical production called ELIXIR the Musical written and directed by Given Maziya with Saxola Khetshengane acting as musical director. Chuma Sijeqa is unmistakably committed, passionate and eager to learn more about his art form.
Vuyani Mlinde (bass) joined Gauteng Opera (then called Black Tie Ensemble) in 2001 and made his opera debut for the company in their 2001 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto in the role of Sparafucile. Although young, and a student in the company, he sang the role of Bonze in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in 2002 and followed with the role of Colline in La Bohème in 2004.
Vuyani won an eight-month scholarship from the Opera Queensland Young Artists’ Programme (Australia) in October 2004, a full scholarship for 2004/2005 at the Royal College of Music in London, and a full scholarship for the Benjamin Britten International Opera School. Highlight performances during this time include the role of Raphael in Haydn’s Oratorio, The Creation with Maestro John-Elliot Gardiner at the Carnegie Concert Hall in New York, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and at the Pisa Festival in 2009.
Then followed the role of the doctor in Macbeth for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in London, performances in Paris and Madrid, another Creation with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andres Nelson’s Bach Magnificat at de Doelen – Rotterdam and performances with Concerto Copenhagen, to name a few. Over the years Vuyani established himself as a bass opera singer in Europe and currently resides in Lucerne, Switzerland. Vuyani is excited to come back to South Africa to perform in an opera in South Africa, for the first time since he left in 2004, and then again for Gauteng Opera. “It feels like I am coming home at last”.
Kagiso Boroko hails from Hammanskraal and already at school, he showed interest in choral music, joining his school choir in 2003. During this year he also joined the group ‘Sweet Voice Masters’ under the leadership of Bhekezizwe Nhlapo.
As a member of the ‘Sweet Voice Masters’ he realized that he loves performing and as a member of this group he performed and participated in the various events, competitions and performances, to name a few: The Unisa Music Foundation Competition, the birthday celebration of Mr Bill Venter, the Altron Awards in 2007 at the Sun City Palace at the Yamaha young talent Rocks Competition and at the Caltivisia Festival.
Kagiso successfully auditioned in 2010 for The Black Tie Ensemble’s Incubator Scheme.
During the next three years he participated as a member of the chorus, part of the Scheme’s training curriculum, in the BTE Opera Vignette production of CW Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in 2010. He was also a member in BTE’s Annual Christmas Concerts for 2010 and 2011. During 2011 he sang the role of the ‘Page’ in BTE’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian-Carlo Menotti. Later that year he was part of the Vignette opera production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor and during September, Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and sang the role of Pinellino in the BTE production of Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini.
During 2012 he participated in the following productions for BTE VO1SS: Forté: Power of the Voice; Verdi Opera Gala; A Spring Gala; One Voice: An African Celebration; A Christmas Concert and Carols by Candlelight. Kagiso passed his final assessment and is currently a member of Forté. He receives vocal coaching from Marcus Desando.
Tshepo grew up in Sebokeng and was introduced to opera by his high school music teacher, Mr Barnett. He really enjoyed this music and during local choir competitions had the opportunity to perform solo operatic parts. He developed enough to partake in the provincial competitions, but not the national.
He was then informed and advised by his teacher to audition for Gauteng Opera after he matriculated and luckily got accepted in their Academy. He started his three-year course during January 2017.
Naledi Winning Musical Director, Conductor, Arranger/Composer and educator
Born in Johannesburg in 1974, Eddie is the great-grandson of British composer Horace Barton and comes from a long line of musicians. He joined the South African Defence Force (later the SA National Defence Force – SANDF) as a national serviceman in 1993 and subsequently began an illustrious career in military music which spanned the better part of 14 years.
He was the principal trumpet player and later was appointed as the principal French horn player. In this time Eddie moved through the ranks and was ultimately appointed as the youngest Military Directors of Music in the organisation’s history. The directorship entailed (in short) managing the band and its members, writing and arranging music for the various bands, conducting and musically directing the bands and adjudicating their various in-house examinations. In this time, his musical career as a performer, conductor and arranger outside of SANDF started to pick up significantly, so much so that he resigned from the military to pursue a full-time career as a free-lance musician.
In his career as a full-time freelance musician, Eddie has performed with most of the major orchestras throughout South Africa, including the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, to mention but a few. He is the regular co-principal horn player for the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and most recently was selected to perform with Josh Groban on the final leg of his world tour, performing in Sun City, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. He also performed in the supporting orchestra for the Il Divo world tour.
Eddie has conducted many of the country’s opera companies and well-known orchestras, including Pro Musica, the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Black Tie Ensemble, Gauteng Opera as well as the Bloemfontein Symphony Orchestra as a guest conductor. In 2011 he was invited as a guest conductor of the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra and is currently the resident Principal Conductor of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company (JYOC). In 2012 he guest conducted the University of Pretoria’s Symphony Orchestra and has recently been appointed conductor of the University of Pretoria’s Symphonic Wind Band.
Eddie is the Principal Musical Director, arranger and composer for the SA Tattoo at Monte Casino, which is currently going into its sixth year. He is a founding member of the production team that makes the SA Tattoo happen every year. He is also the co-founding member of Spit ‘n Polish Brass Quintet, of which he is the principal Horn Player as well as principal arranger for the group.
Large-scale musical productions Eddie has conducted and musically directed include: The Sound of Music – 2005, My Fair Lady – 2006, The King and I – 2008 (a show in which he was commissioned by Rodgers and Hammerstein to downsize the musical score. This score is still being utilized internationally for similar productions), Fiddler on the Roof – 2009, Shaka Zulu – 2010, Jock of the Bushveld – 2010, Tree Aan – 2011 (a show for which he won a Naledi Award for Best Musical Director), Lied van my Hart – 2012 (Starring Steve Hofmeyer and Nadine), Ons Vir Jou and most recently Jesus, die musielblyspel.
One of his musical career highlights was conducting and orchestrating Die Skepping Oratorium at the Pretoria State Theatre. Eddie also conducted and co-directed the 2014 and 2015 Huisgenoot Skouspel and wrote the majority of the musical orchestrations for this show. He also conducted Carmina Burana for the “Principals Concert” at the Aula in Pretoria.
As an active musical educator Eddie taught brass, percussion, improvisation, arranging and conducting at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) in Pretoria. His 60-piece Symphony Orchestra and 14 Piece Swing Ensemble at Affies both won numerous awards over the years performed major classical works as well as standard swing pieces. He is also a part-time lecturer in French Horn at the University of Pretoria and is the resident conductor of the Tukkies Windband. He is also called upon from time to time to assist in conducting the University’s Orchestra UPSO
In 2012 Eddie was invited by Richard Cock (renowned conductor and radio personality) to be his guest on the talk show, “People of Note” on Classic FM 102.7. This was a 3 hour live radio broadcast. Eddie was commissioned and was involved in composing and orchestrating the sound track for an animated movie from Canada, due for release soon. He is also busy writing a brand new show for Woordfees 2016 which he is also performing in and Directing.
Originally from Pretoria Marcus (a Naledi awards nominee for best Actor in a Musical) started his Career with PACT in 1989 as a singer and in 1994 moved to Cape Town Opera (CAPAB) where his career as a director and principal singer started. As a singer Marcus sang in over 75 Operas, Musical theatre productions and Concerts in South Africa and abroad. He travelled the world Singing and directing with New York Harlem Productions, Really Useful Company, Pieter Toerien Productions and Cape Town Opera.
Marcus has had the honour of being invited by University of Stellenbosch, Tshwane University of Technology, UCT: college of music and UKZN OCSA (opera school) as a guest lecturer where he taught stage craft and also directed productions. His production of Rigoletto was recorded and televised by SABC 2.Marcus has already directed over 40 productions Opera ranging from Opera to Concerts; he was invited by the Windhoek Symphony Orchestra and the Free State Symphony Orchestra in 2012 to sing in Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven Symphony no9 respectively.
Mr Desando is currently CEO for Gauteng Opera(formerly Black Tie Ensemble), reading for his Master’s degree in Business science (MSc) with da Vinci institute and Chairman of SANOA (South African National Opera Association).
Lungile Cindi, is an actor, set designer and architectural technologist.
He holds a Bsc in Architecture from the University of Pretoria. He decided to pursue his secret passion in the arts after following a career in architecture by spending some time at the South African State Theatre studying acting after which he featured in a number of plays such as Primal, Out of Time in Cula Mzansi.
In 2016, he made his first appearance at the Grahams town National Arts Festival with the 2015 Standard Bank Ovation award winning production 1606. Whilst simultaneously applying his knowledge and skill in architecture by designing the sets of every production he could get his hands on, such as Tshepo Ratona’s Primal, Essence of Coit and Amend by Sibusiso Khwinana, Under the shade composed by Matthew Macfarlane, Kgaugelo Tshabalala’s Miscs must fall and Bongani Masango’s Blaq Renaissance, to name a few.
Lungile aided in the design of Paul Grootboom’s Presidents Man which afterwards he assisted Wilhelm Disbergen in creation of Gauteng Opera’s Elisir D’amore staged at the Mandela, Jo’burg Theatre. He took the helm by designing Sophia Town by the Junction Avenue Theatre Company which was directed by multi-award winning director Aubrey Sekhabi at the South African State Theatre.
Lungile began making his mark by teaming up with SAFTA award winning art director Vallery Groenewald in the making of Kagiso Lediga’s upcoming Matwetwe film, as well as the second season of Bantu Hour.
La bohème is an opera in four acts, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The world premiere performance of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini; its U.S. premiere took place the following year, 1897, in Los Angeles. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.
Marcello is painting while Rodolfo gazes out of the window. They complain of the cold. To keep warm, they burn the manuscript of Rodolfo’s drama. Colline, the philosopher, enters shivering and disgruntled at not having been able to pawn some books. Schaunard, the musician of the group, arrives with food, wine and cigars. He explains the source of his riches: a job with an eccentric English gentleman, who ordered him to play his violin to a parrot until it died. The others hardly listen to his tale as they set up the table to eat and drink. Schaunard interrupts, telling them that they must save the food for the days ahead: tonight, they will all celebrate his good fortune by dining at Cafe Momus, and he will pay.
The friends are interrupted by Benoît, the landlord, who arrives to collect the rent. They flatter him and ply him with wine. In his drunkenness, he begins to boast of his amorous adventures, but when he also reveals that he is married, they thrust him from the room—without the rent payment—in comic moral indignation. The rent money is divided for their evening out.
Marcello, Schaunard and Colline go out, but Rodolfo remains alone for a moment to finish an article he is writing, promising to join his friends soon. There is a knock at the door. It is a girl who lives in another room in the building. Her candle has blown out, and she has no matches; she asks Rodolfo to light it. She is briefly overcome with faintness, and Rodolfo helps her to a chair and offers her a glass of wine. She thanks him. After a few minutes, she says that she is better and must go. But as she turns to leave, she realizes that she has lost her key.
Her candle goes out in the draught and Rodolfo’s candle goes out too; the pair stumble in the dark. Rodolfo, eager to spend time with the girl, to whom he is already attracted, finds the key and pockets it, feigning innocence. He takes her cold hand (Che gelida manina – “What a cold little hand”) and tells her of his life as a poet, then asks her to tell him more about her life. The girl says her name is Mimì (Sì, mi chiamano Mimì – “Yes, they call me Mimì”), and describes her simple life as an embroiderer. Impatiently, the waiting friends call Rodolfo. He answers and turns to see Mimì bathed in moonlight (duet, Rodolfo and Mimì: O soave fanciulla – “Oh lovely girl”). They realize that they have fallen in love. Rodolfo suggests remaining at home with Mimì, but she decides to accompany him to the Cafe Momus. As they leave, they sing of their newfound love.
A great crowd, including children, has gathered with street sellers announcing their wares (chorus: Aranci, datteri! Caldi i marroni! – “Oranges, dates! Hot chestnuts!”). The friends arrive; Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet from a vendor, while Colline buys a coat and Schaunard a horn. Parisians gossip with friends and bargain with the vendors; the children of the streets clamor to see the wares of Parpignol, the toy seller. The friends enter the Cafe Momus.
As the men and Mimì dine at the cafe, Musetta, formerly Marcello’s sweetheart, arrives with her rich (and elderly) government minister admirer, Alcindoro, whom she is tormenting. It is clear she has tired of him. To the delight of the Parisians and the embarrassment of her patron, she sings a risqué song (Musetta’s waltz: Quando me’n vo’ – “When I go along”), hoping to reclaim Marcello’s attention. The ploy works; at the same time, Mimì recognizes that Musetta truly loves Marcello. To be rid of Alcindoro for a bit, Musetta pretends to be suffering from a tight shoe and sends him to the shoemaker to get her shoe mended. Alcindoro leaves, and Musetta and Marcello fall rapturously into each other’s arms.
The friends are presented with their bill. Schaunard’s purse has gone missing and no one else has enough money to pay. The sly Musetta has the entire bill charged to Alcindoro. The sound of a military band is heard, and the friends leave. Alcindoro returns with the repaired shoe seeking Musetta. The waiter hands him the bill and, dumbfounded, Alcindoro sinks into a chair.
At the toll gate at the Barrière d’Enfer (late February)
Peddlers pass through the barriers and enter the city. Mimì appears, coughing violently. She tries to find Marcello, who is currently living in a little tavern where he paints signs for the innkeeper. She tells him of her hard life with Rodolfo, who abandoned her the night before, and of Rodolfo’s terrible jealousy (O buon Marcello, aiuto! – “Oh, good Marcello, help me!”). Marcello tells her that Rodolfo is asleep inside, and expresses concern about Mimì’s cough. Rodolfo wakes up and comes out looking for Marcello. Mimì hides and overhears Rodolfo first telling Marcello that he left Mimì because of her coquettishness, but finally confessing that his jealousy is a sham: he fears she is slowly being consumed by a deadly illness (most likely tuberculosis, known by the catchall name “consumption” in the nineteenth century). Rodolfo, in his poverty, can do little to help Mimì and hopes that his pretended unkindness will inspire her to seek another, wealthier suitor (Marcello, finalmente – “Marcello, finally”).
Out of kindness towards Mimì, Marcello tries to silence him, but she has already heard all. Her weeping and coughing reveal her presence, and Rodolfo hurries to her. Musetta’s laughter is heard and Marcello goes to find out what has happened. Mimì tells Rodolfo that she is leaving him, and asks that they separate amicably (Mimì: Donde lieta uscì – “From here she happily left”); but their love for one another is too strong for the pair to part. As a compromise, they agree to remain together until the spring, when the world is coming to life again and no one feels truly alone. Meanwhile, Marcello has found Musetta, and the couple quarrel fiercely about Musetta’s flirtatiousness: an antithetical counterpoint to the other pair’s reconciliation (quartet: Mimì, Rodolfo, Musetta, Marcello: Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina! – “Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning!”).
(some months later)
Marcello and Rodolfo are trying to work, though they are primarily talking about their girlfriends, who have left them and found wealthy lovers. Rodolfo has seen Musetta in a fine carriage and Marcello has seen Mimì dressed like a queen. The men both express their nostalgia (duet: O Mimì, tu più non torni – “O Mimì, will you not return?”). Schaunard and Colline arrive with a very frugal dinner and all parody eating a plentiful banquet, dance together and sing, before Schaunard and Colline engage in a mock duel.
Musetta suddenly appears; Mimì, who took up with a wealthy viscount after leaving Rodolfo in the spring, has left her patron. Musetta found her that day in the street, severely weakened by her illness, and Mimì begged Musetta to bring her to Rodolfo. Mimì, haggard and pale, is assisted onto a bed. Briefly, she feels as though she is recovering. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell Musetta’s earrings to buy medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his overcoat (Vecchia zimarra – “Old coat”). Schaunard leaves with Colline to give Mimì and Rodolfo some time together. Mimì tells Rodolfo that her love for him is her whole life (aria/duet, Mimì and Rodolfo: Sono andati? – “Have they gone?”).
To Mimì’s delight, Rodolfo presents her with the pink bonnet he bought her, which he has kept as a souvenir of their love. They remember past happiness and their first meeting—the candles, the lost key. Suddenly, Mimì is overwhelmed by a coughing fit. The others return, with a gift of a muff to warm Mimì’s hands and some medicine. Mimì gently thanks Rodolfo for the muff, which she believes is a present from him, reassures him that she is better and falls asleep. Musetta prays. Schaunard discovers that Mimì has died. Rodolfo rushes to the bed, calling Mimì’s name in anguish, weeping helplessly as the curtain falls