Sunday, July 8, 2012

CAPAB OPERA .1967-1970 .Cape Town .South Africa.


Because I sang  in the opera chorus of SUKOVS in Bloemfontein ,and enjoyed it so much,  I decided to go for an interview with CAPAB once I got to Cape Town .The Cape Town Opera was a very good company and they  performed two operas each season. It was a professional choir and we rehearsed almost 9 months of the year. I was accepted and told to turn up for rehearsals. The company was doing "Carmen" and "Turandot" that season. The CAPAB choir did "Carmen "and the opera schools student performed as the choir in "Turandot".

We performed in the beautiful Alhambra Theater in Cape Town. .

For our production of "Carmen"  the name role was  sung by Nedda Casei, the Metropolitan Opera mezzo, Michael Trimble was Don Jose and Lawrence Folley sang the role of  Escamillo.Other roles were sung by Sarita Stern Philip de Vos and Antoinette Krige.

  Nedda Casei.

Here is Nedda Casei with Leontyne Price.

Nedda Casei 2014

Antoinette Krige  Nedda Casei.

Michael Trimble American tenor.

It was great to work with a real professional opera company. We had languages coaches to help with the French pronunciation. Our costumes where made to measure and even the boots and shoes were custom made. We use to rehearse once a week .In the beginning the men will practice on their own and then the women's voice will join us and slowly but surely the soloist will turn up as well. About two weeks before we rehearsed almost every night and when the soloist arrived we had a full orchestra rehearsal that I loved. It was a wonderful experience as everybody was relaxed and they all did their best without any pressure of an audience. We did this in the Cape Town City Hall. This is also the first time that all the hard work came together and we could hear the magnificent work for the first time and all the piece fell in place.

Henry + Elsa .
Opening of the opera at the Alhambra Theater 1969  .

 Elsa Wolfaard was a soprano in  the opera chorus ,and sang in the Stellenbosch University Choir under Philip McLaughlin .When she came to Cape Town to teach she joined the opera company. She lived close to me so we arranged that she would pick me up for rehearsals as she had a car and I did not .We become good friends and we still are! She has visited me in New York several times and when I was in Europe, Elsa was stationed in Amsterdam as the Representative of the South African Tourist Board. We  went to Greece together on vacation as well. We would channel hop between London and Amsterdam quite often. She is now retired and lives in Yzerfontein in her "pink" house.

Renato Bruson and Joyce Barker.

While we were singing in "Carmen" the opera school was doing Puccini's "Turandot". The title role was sung by Joyce Barker the South African soprano. I went with my fellow student at the Fashion School, Margaret. I was floored by the music and the voice of Joyce Barker. She was a wonderful soprano with a great full dramatic voice. The tenor was Ge Korsten.

During the following three years we performed Beethoven's "Fidelio." Martha" by Flotow. "Un Ballo in Maschera" by Verdi and  Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor". Fidelio" was sung by the Australian soprano Elizabeth Fretwell that was a star of the Saddlers Wells opera in London. Florestan was sung by the South African tenor Gert Potgieter .

Click to here his voice.

Fretwell  returned the next year as Amelia in "Un Ballo in Maschera"

Henry + Elsa  backstage for "Un Ballo in Maschera".

Nellie du Toit, the South Africa soprano was the star in Flotow's "Martha" as well as  a sensational Lucia in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor". She was also Deon van der Walt and Michele Breedt's singing teacher during her time at Stellenbosch University

Here is the voice of Nellie Du Toit singing  Verdi's "Ernani"

Ge Korsten and Nellie du Toit.

Ge Korsten.

Her Edgardo in "Lucia di Lammermoor" was Ge Korsten once again. He was the Mario Lanza of South Africa and made many popular recordings as well. Here is Ge Korsten' voice .

 In "Martha" other singers were  Michael Trimble and  Evelyn Dalberg.

Evelyn Dalberg. South African Mezzo Soprano.

Nico Malan foyer    1974.

Nico Malan Opera House.

Emma Renzi  the South Africa soprano working at La Scala in Milano was asked to come and open the Nico Malan Theater in Cape Town .The opera was to be" Aida". I left before I could sing in this production but we did some choir rehearsals.

All this ended for me when I decided to go to Europe to further my studies in 1971.I had a great time and it just furthered my love for opera. When I got to Europe I had the opportunity to hear most of the famous singers that were appearing in the top European opera houses at the time.
I was very thankful to have had this experience.

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