Review: Cape Town Opera triumph at Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, January 22, 2023, after an absence of 23 years, sharing the stage with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brandon William Phillips

Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts 2022/23

When: November 20, 2022 to April 2, 2023
Last concert:  April 2, 2023 with Ami Faku/Msaki

Bookings: Webtickets https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/Event.aspx?itemid=1520614853The  

The excitement was palpable on Sunday, January 22, 2023, with Cape Town Opera performing at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden’s Sunset Concerts. Cape Town Opera, shared the stage with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the charismatic Brandon William Phillips. The opera’s award winning chorus was in fine form. The synthesis between the voice and music was awesome, framed by the magnificent mountain setting of Kirstenbosch.

MC, Africa Melane (who is on the board of CTO), told us that it was the first time in 23 years that Cape Town Opera has performed at Kirstenbosch. I followed this up with Melane, to check. Yes, the last time the opera company, performed at Kirstenbosch was in 2000. It has been way too long. I hope that this will be the start of many more concerts. I would love to see an opera production being performed on the stage. Perhaps that is something to consider. Opera in the Park is a big thing in cities like Sydney, so here is hoping that we will see Africa’s largest opera company as a regular at Kirstenbosch.

It was great to see a big turn-out for this concert. Many of the people I chatted to are friends with artists in the opera company and were to support them and enjoy the experience of being at Kirstenbosch. I am a huge fan of the opera company and its innovative repertoire which includes opera classics, contemporary works and show-cases. I often hear:  “Nah- don’t do opera”. Well, I urge you to check out this amazing opera company. Their productions are awesome. Under the steerage of its sassy artistic director, Magdalene Minnaar, CTO is reaching younger hipster audiences, as was evidenced at the concert on Sunday at Kirstenbosch. In addition to staging of classical operas in period, the opera has been increasingly subverting and mashing up operas. For example, CTO has stripped down operas for touring purposes and used orchestral reductions- with a pianist on stage to accompany the company.  It stages opera in period and operas which are set in contemporary times and which riff off our country and what is going on – for instance- with load shedding. The opera company has commissioned visual artists to design for its productions and commissioned new operas, around stories and narratives which are part of our landscape. It recently presented a programme, highlighting GBV [Gender based violence].  

To circle back to the Kirstenbosch concert, it was epic to see and Cape Town Opera on stage in the magnificent gardens. Bravo to team Kirstenbosch and the summer concerts. In all my coverage of the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, I am drawing attention to the perils of purchasing tickets via onseller/secondary ticket selling platforms. Webtickets is the designated ticket seller for the series. Be careful, because when googling the series, inevitably an onseller p;atform will pop up and it may indicate that there are only a handful of tickets are left. The prices tend to be way above listed prices on Webtickets. Some tickets peddled on onseller platforms, may not be legit. Read more here: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/insight-the-perils-of-booking-through-secondary-ticket-platforms/] Here is the Webtickets link for the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert series: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/Event.aspx?itemid=1520614853 The next concert, this Sunday, January 29 is Sun El/Shimmy- starts 5.15pm.

Opera: Cape Town Opera at Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, January 22, 2023, after an absence of 23 years, sharing the stage with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brandon William Phillips. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

Artistic director: Magdalene Minnaar – the innovative artistic of Cape Town Opera, celebrating the CPO’s return to the Kirstenbosch, January 22, 2023.© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Concert gazing: Vuyelwa Shumane enjoying opera at Kirstenbosch, January 22, 2023.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

✳Featured image: Cape Town Opera at Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, January 22, 2023, after an absence of 23 years, sharing the stage with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brandon William Phillips.© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.