NEELS HANSEN: TRIBUTE TO A GENIUS
OPERA – SOUTH AFRICAN STATE THEATRE
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 at 20:00
During the second half of 2013 Marcus Desando, CEO of Gauteng Opera and Arnold Cloete, COO of Gauteng Opera discussed the possibility of paying tribute to not just a driving force for Opera in Gauteng since the early 80’s, but also the founder of The Black Tie Ensemble – Neels Hansen. Gauteng Opera evolved from this remarkable project, started in 1999 with opera-diva, Mimi Coertse.
Although Neels was retired and lived in the retirement complex, Fleurenville, he was still very interested in what was happening with Gauteng Opera and was always ready with advice and support. Arnold would regularly visit Neels and gave him updates on the company, as they worked together for many years with The Black Tie Ensemble.
Marcus suggested a tribute concert during the performance run of Gauteng Opera’s Cosi fan tutte, due to the availability of space for this special event. Former members of The Black Tie Enseble were contacted and invited to be part of this special evening and many colleagues, artists, friends and family were invited to make this night special for Neels. The interest and good wishes were overwhelming and we even ended up with two conductors for the evening. Apart from Alexander Fokkens who did some of his first conducting for Neels and the Black Ties in 2006 and was conducting the Cosi fan tutte season, we also had Graham Scott in the pit. Graham worked with Neels over many years, starting in the eighties during PACT days and conducted various operas and concerts for The Black Tie Ensemble.
We were fortunate to have Loveline Madumo, founding member of The Black Tie Ensemble, giving her beautiful rendition of Visi d’Arte, the role of Tosca she sang in 2006 during a vignette staging of the opera ; Teresa de Wit who have been a member of the Ties for several year and performing Una voce poco fa from Il barbiere di Siviglia, also performed it on stage for the Black Ties in 2005. Bongiwe Madlala brough the Vilja from The Merry Widow to life – a role she sang in 2009 during the Confederation Cup celebrations. Lastly, Jonathan Watkins thrilled the audiences with his remarkable counter-tenor voice in a rendition of Jacques Offenbach’s Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour from The tales of Hoffmann. The Cosi-company shone like starts with these wonderfully supported artists.
Neels was overwhelmed and happy as he managed to see so many of his friends and colleagues he hasn’t seen for many years. As part of the set-dressing, we exhibited some of Neels’ beautiful costumes from various productions and had a slide show reminiscing his life in theatre.
An important acknowledgement and heart-felt thanks was giving to man who deserved it. Neels Hansen: Tribute to a Genius.
To view Neels cv, click here.