CLASSIC ROCKS: Soweto Opera Quadro.
The Johannesburg Market Theatre has taken an unprecedented step by bringing classical music to its stage.
This is in response to the growing need to develop an appreciation of one of the world’s most appreciated forms of music. Dubbed The Festival of Classical Music, the main stage at The Market Theatre has since Tuesday become a hub of activities highlighting operatic voices in a mini-festival starring local favourites.
Apart from making classical music accessible to the people on the streets – so to speak – in an informal setting which seeks to encourage lively audience participation, producer Lawrence Joffe has put up, until Sunday, an amazing display of different kinds of artists performing each night, showcasing a variety of operatic styles.
Speaking about the concepts, the first of its kind in its history, Joffe said: “The Market Theatre is in the position of reinventing itself and so I was approached by the artistic director Malcom Purkey to come and work with them on bringing something new and almost unheard of to the venue. It had to be something that is not strictly classical but that blends classical voices with modern instrumental arrangements of popular music. This means we will cover crossover performances of jazz and pop songs delivered by classically trained musicians.”
Quick to point out to the growing misconception about classical and opera music as a whole, he said: “Unfortunately opera music has a stigma and most of the time people don’t really know what they are talking about. Contrary to popular believe, opera is not about fat people running around singing high notes.”
The term classical simply refers to musicians who have been trained to use their voices properly, he said.
“Even when they get older, they will not struggle to maintain their voices as it’s often the case with musicians that are not classically trained.”
Taking place daily at 8pm, The Festival of Classic Music features a line-up of some of the country’s finest classical performers from the internationally-renowned Opera Africa, Soweto Quadro and Inferno Opera covering a long list of some of the world’s best loved operatic arias and ensembles. A particular treat comes in the form of the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year and one of Opera Africa’s success stories, winner Kelebogile Boikanyo.
Others on the bill along with Joffe include Raymond Tyack, Debbie Joffe and Adrian Galliard as well as pianist Neil Bennet, formerly with the Welsh Men’s Choir. As part of audience participation, theatre-goers will be invited to request the songs they would like to hear and sing along to.
“Of all the theatres I’ve had the privilege to perform and work at in and around the country, I would say the Market Theatre is the best in terms of structure, design and the space it offers. It is truly a nice place for an amazing show like this,” Joffe said.
Bookings are at Computicket.