Reimagining of Verdi’s La traviata at Artscape

Opera UCT’s Sakhumzi Martins. PICTURE: Marguerite Oelofse

Cape Town Opera (CTO) and Opera UCT will present Verdi’s La traviata at the Artscape theatre from Thursday October 26 to Sunday October 29.

The limited season, with direction and design by well-known theatre maker, Marí Borstlap, will feature two casts from both institutions, among them Cape Town Opera House Soloists Brittany Smith as Violetta, Lukhanyo Moyake as Alfredo and Conroy Scott as Germont, and rising talent from Opera UCT including Ondelwa Martins as Violetta, Sakhumzi Martins as Alfredo and Siphe Kwani as Germont.

Sharing other roles will be CTO’s Judith Neilson Young Artists Asisipho Petu, Julia Portela Piñon, Tylor Lamani, Lwazi Dlamini and Lonwabo Mose together with Opera UCT’s Lauren Pharaoh, Christine Bam, Yonwaba Mbo, Vuyisa Xipu and Eric van Rooyen and Cape Town Opera Chorus members Garth Delport and Lindile Kula.

The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra will be under the baton of Jeremy Silver for whom La traviata holds special significance, being the first opera he conducted in South Africa at the State Theatre in Pretoria in 2004. The combined Chorus from CTO and Opera UCT will be directed by Marvin Kernelle and the dance ensemble hails from The Waterfront Theatre School, with choreography by Kirsten Isenberg.

La traviata is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world with some of the most recognised arias and it has resonated with audiences since its Venetian premiere in 1853. The story centres on the glamorous high-class courtesan Violetta and her lover Alfredo as they are forced to confront relationship challenges in a critical society that judges them morally and socially. As her health declines Violetta’s choices, influenced by Alfredo’s father Germont, lead to heart-breaking consequences.

In a departure from tradition, Marí Borstlap has taken her post-modern version of La traviata to visceral new heights together with a creative team that includes Faheem Bardien on lighting design, Michael Mitchell as the technical design consultant and with visual design by Richard Thomson. Borstlap has chosen to experience Violetta’s life through the eye of the heart, like a series of flashbacks as her soul floats in an ocean of vivid imagery, emotions, sounds and symbolism.

Performances are Thursday October 26 and Friday October 27 at 7pm, Saturday October 28 at 6pm and Sunday October 29 at 3pm. Tickets cost from R180 to R520 through Computicket or 021 421 7695.

Cape Town Opera House Soloist Brittany Smith. PICTURE: Marguerite Oelofse