Although the time in Hermanus is peaceful and wonderful, I miss Cape Town’s energy and incredible performing arts venue. It’s only a two-hour drive, but unsettling not knowing what weather might occur while crossing Sir Lowrys Pass at night. Wind and fog on the Pass can be fierce, and there are no lights or dividers along the two-lane freeway. If something happens, you’re toast.
When I heard that Cape Town Opera was performing at Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, I jumped at the chance to attend the performance! Although I still had to cross the Pass, it’s only about an hour away. The fact that it was a dinner concert at Simonsig’s Cuvée Restaurant was an extra added delight.
Singers from Cape Town Opera appear at Simonsig every year performing arias and ensembles from well-known operas and musicals. The spectacular opera program was entitled “Love In All Its Splendour 1750 – 1950”. It was thrilling to be so close to the singers while they performed! I don’t have friends in Hermanus interested in opera, so I went on my own.
There were about 8 tables seating 12 or so people and I sat at a front table with five couples – four German and one South African. Everyone at the table was a transplant from Germany. I’m sure that, except for me, everyone spoke fluent German, Afrikaans, or both. The Germans were interesting and I enjoyed our conversations. One German woman had a small vineyard specializing in champagne and another a PR firm. Most of them lived near Paarl in the small town of Windmeul (Windmill). The South African couple was friendly and interested in my African travels.
I’ve seen several Cape Town Opera performances at Artscape Theatre and have never been disappointed. The Germans were a bit critical of the diction and pronunciation of some singers. The MC for the evening was quick to notice. Before she introduced the second set she discussed the libretto (text of an opera) explaining that many were written so long ago that even native speakers don’t always understand every word. The singers were brave to perform for a small audience of discerning Germans.
Cape Town Opera singers have performed internationally at festivals and productions throughout Europe and the world. I spoke briefly with Melanie Daniels, Cape Town Opera Development Manager, who said it had been difficult to find venues in the US.
I’m not an opera expert but enjoyed every song performed and thought the singers were all magnificent!
Program Before Main Course
- Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) – Mozart
- Gianni Schicchi – Puccini Solo Frances du Plessis
- Faust – Gounod Solo Nkululeko Masuku
- Carmen – Bizet
Program Before Dessert
- Giuditta – Franz Lehár Solo Cecilia Rangwanasha
- Paganini – Franz Lehár
- Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) – Franz Lehár
- Camelot – Lerner & Loewe
- West Side Story – Bernstein Solo Johannes Slabbert
- Porgy & Bess – Gershwin
- Der Vogelhändler (The Bird Seller) – Zeller
An amazing pianist, Paul Ferreira, accompanied the singers.
The talented singers included:
- Frances du Plessis Soprano
- Nkululeko Masuku Tenor
- Martin Mkhize Baritone
- Thomas Mohlamme Bass
- Cecilia Rangwanasha Soprano
- Nonhlanhla Yende Mezzo Soprano
- Abongile Fumba Mezzo Soprano
- Johannes Slabbert Tenor
I enjoyed the entire program. Johannes Slabbert’s Maria from West Side Story was magnificent. The bass, Thomas Mohlamme, has a mesmerizing voice, and the sopranos, especially Frances du Plessis, were all amazing. It was a memorable evening!