As the days lengthen, bringing a hint of spring to the air, Cape Town Opera (CTO) promises to put a spring in your step with their effervescent production of ‘Merry Widow of Malagawi’, showing at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from September 5 to 12, thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery Distribution Trust fund.
Director Janice Honeyman has transferred Franz Lehar’s beloved ‘Lustige Witwe’ from the Balkan kingdom of Pontevedria to an equally fictitious sophisticated modern state somewhere north of us.
CTO Managing Director Michael Williams shares his unbridled excitement for this production:
Yesterday I sat watching the run through of ‘Merry Widow of Malagawi’ in the rehearsal room, wishing it would never end. Franz Lehár’s wonderful music infected me all over again, as Tim Murray coaxed a stylish nod to Vienna from the company.
And what to say about Janice Honeyman – surely South Africa’s doyenne of Wit, Panache and Wicked Fun – who has created a fantasy world, so familiar, so just out of reach and yet so damn desirable. It’s a world of high fashion, bright colours, cocktails on white beaches, and lavish balls at grand embassies. (If only Malagawi did exist, I would be one of its first citizens.)
Of course Alan Committie as Njegus keeps the cast chortling and chuckling throughout, and is a totally disruptive element, bringing his own unique brand of chaos to the room. I know I shall rue the day I ever allowed Janice to convince me to include him in the cast – letting him loose on the opera stage can only result in show-stopping laughter. Listening to Elizabeth Llewellyn, Soprano (Anna) and Aubrey M Lodewyk (Danilo) sing the love duet, I could imagine Maestro Lehár smiling approvingly of their faithful interpretation of his well-loved melody. I wonder too, what he might say about our chorus, who sing his waltzes as if born to the task. And as for the Dorettes, those saucy sirens of the night, well, I just have to distance myself from what they get up to with an innocent bar stool.
One of the greatest pleasures of my job is being an alchemist, combining the right elements to react in a way that will produce gold.
Birrie le Roux (costumes) and Michael Mitchell (set) have created an incredible kaleidoscope, using a pallet saturated with African colours; Sean Bovim has never worked with Janice before, but it seems to be a match made in heaven, sparking each other to create some rather unique dance moves.
I sat in the rehearsal observing an extraordinary transmutation of words on a page, an idea on a stairwell, a sketch from a designer’s pen, an exploratory flourish on a marimba, all rapidly turning into a work of art, an elixir, if you like – something that confers youth and long life to all who drink it.
And as I returned to my rather dull office, I wished I could bottle that elixir and sell it at every café in town. But then I realized there’s a much simpler way – just get a ticket to Merry Widow and drink your fill.
* CTO’s Operetta Show and Stay Package
Show and Stay package, at one of Cape Town’s finest hotels and theatres, is priced at R2000 for 2 adults sharing.
Each package includes:
• One night’s accommodation for 2 persons sharing
• Full English buffet breakfast for 2
• 2 First tier tickets to ‘The Merry Widow of Malagawi’ and a complimentary souvenir programme
• Complimentary bottle of sparkling wine on arrival in your room
• Complimentary transport to and from ‘The Merry Widow of Malagawi’ at Artscape.
Book at Computicket
For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.