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Isango Ensemble and La Boheme perform in London

Isango Ensemble and La Boheme perform in London

Read about this inspiring Puccini opera project, that is using La Boheme to address the topic of TB in South Africa.

 

The Global Fund and Isango Ensemble have joined forces in a unique partnership, with the acclaimed South African theatre group producing an extraordinary new version of Puccini’s classic opera La Bohème.

The world premiere performance took place on 23 February 2012 in Cape Town, with an international tour beginning at London’s Hackney Empire in May 2012.

The Global Fund is proud to partner with the innovative and multi-award-winning Isango Ensemble in their latest distinctly South African re-working of a western classic. Having already taken the world’s theatres by storm with their versions of Carmen and The Magic Flute, Isango’s La Bohème not only retains the musical brilliance of Puccini’s most popular work, but also helps cast a spotlight on the devastation caused by tuberculosis.

La Bohème – Abanxaxhi and TB

Isango’s version, entitled La Bohème – Abanxaxhi (the Xhosa language translation) moves the setting from the garrets of mid-nineteenth century Paris to the townships of contemporary Africa, with the score played on marimbas and steel pans.

At the heart of the opera’s love story is the death of the heroine Mimi. She dies from tuberculosis – a mass killer more than 150 years ago when Puccini set the original opera and a mass killer today in South Africa and many other parts of the developing world.

There is a particular poignancy and relevance about Mimi’s death, especially for South Africans like the cast of Isango who are drawn from the country’s townships. The overcrowded and poor townships have some of the world’s highest TB rates. In the extended families of the cast many live with the realities of the disease on a daily basis.

International Performances

As the world’s largest international financier in the fight against TB, the Global Fund intends at events around international performances of Isango’s La Bohème – Abanxaxhi to show that TB is not a disease of the past but a contemporary reality that causes widespread suffering and death across large swathes of the planet. While recognizing the progress made to date, the goal is to seek the political will and funding for the world to effectively fight the disease.

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The Keiskamma Music Academy

Keiskamma Music Academy Logo

Read about the wonderful work being done by the team at the Keiskamma Music Academy in Hamburg, a rural area of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.  We’re inspired by the work of their music teachers and children, and delighted to be in touch with them!

A Nairobi Parade

A Nairobi Parade

We like what this Art of Music Kenya photo says about taking music to the streets.

Musical America features our Magic Flute

The nice people at Musical America have put us on their front page.  Thankyou kindly USA.  Donations in Dollars to the cause also welcome.

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Thanks for getting in touch!

Thanks to all of you who have responded to our publicity in the Telegraph (UK) yesterday.  We’re delighted by your immediate interest and support.  We thought we’d take the opportunity to blog about you to the world.

First up of our featured supporters:  ART OF MUSIC, KENYA

Their motto – make music make a difference – is right up our street.  Or should we say, on our route…

Looking forward to hearing more about their project, Ghetto Classics in Korogocho, one of Nairobi’s slums, as well as a youth orchestra that incorporates young Kenyans from all walks of life who are musically talented.  Inspiring work.  Here’s a little video about them:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA8L9p451H0%5D

A page in the Telegraph

The Telegraph Opera Critic Rupert Christiansen applauds a new plan to take the Magic Flute through Africa.

‘Use well the interval” is a line in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius which that splendid young tenor Andrew Staples has taken to heart. “And not only the interval,” he adds, “but also the time I spend on the platform with a score on my lap, staring into space as I wait to get up and sing. It’s a golden opportunity to do some creative and lateral thinking.”
It’s not that he’s worried about his career: it’s busy and thriving, and he’s booked in for leading roles in Così fan tutte at Opera Holland Park in July, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House next year. But he knows he’d go “slightly crazy” if that was all he did.
So Staples also runs his own company, Vignette Productions, dedicated to flexible and innovative opera stagings. Last year, he directed an “immersive” La Bohème in a vault in east London and next month he joins with Bury Court Opera near Farnham for Rossini’s La Cenerentola. In the summer, Vignette will also mount two baroque oratorios on the theme of sacrifice, presented at Shoreditch Town Hall in the frame of an art installation.
But all this is child’s play compared with the four-month project Staples is planning for 2013-14. It’s currently called Opera for Change, and behind it is the idea of taking an articulated lorry and a couple of coaches containing a company of about 50 singers, musicians and crew on a 5,000-mile journey from Nairobi through the Rift Valley to Cape Town, performing a flat-pack version of Die Zauberflöte.
This is an opera with characters such as the bird-catcher Papageno and the wicked Queen of the Night, whose significance is universal, bearing a plot and message that can easily be related to African styles of musical storytelling and specifically to the fight against HIV and Aids.

“We will make perhaps 10 stops en route, playing for a week or so at each of them and linking up with charities, schools and hospitals,” Staples told me. “We want to make the opera very upbeat and full of good news, based on the idea that conquering fear is always the biggest step towards a better life. But we don’t want it to be just health propaganda: it’s got to have artistic and musical integrity, too, and I’m hoping we can find and use some great young African singers.”
Staples is engagingly enthusiastic and blazingly sincere, but you’d be wrong to think he was wide-eyed or naïve: the project is being properly costed and a business plan assembled. A month-long recce, covering the proposed route, is planned for the end of the year.
Opera for Change will ultimately need something in the region of £3 million, and if the likes of Elton John or Bill Gates could kick in with a third of that sum from their foundations, Staples really believes he can swing it. I only wish I could write him a big cheque myself.

Original article here

Welcome to our new website

We are going to be using this site for regular posts about the project as we develop it over the coming months.

The operaforchange route map

We invite you to check back regularly and stay in touch with our progress here.

With thanks from The team.