Last year I went to see Reakopana’s first operatic production, Candide, at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria. I really enjoyed it. Thus is was I was delighted to be invited to Reakopana’s 2013 production of Rossini’s L’Occasione fa il Ladro at The Greenside on 16 October 2013.
I was a little amazed to discover just how many operas Rossini wrote that I had never heard of, never mind never heard! This one act opera is designed for six singers, no chorus, and even though I had never heard the opera before, the use of a chorus by Reakopano seemed “inserted” and forced. The work would have been better if it had been left as Rossini wrote it.
The characters are Don Parmenione, (baritone), Mkhanyiseli Mlombi; Martino, the servant of Don Parmenione, (bass), Daniel Reumiller from Switzerland); Count Alberto, (tenor), Herman Theron, Don Eusebio, (tenor), Tinus Spies, Berenice, the niece of Don Eusebio and the betrothed of Count Alberto, (soprano), Maite Renaud (also of Switzerland); Ernestina, Bernenice’s friend, (soprano), Veramarie Meyer. I enjoyed all the performances very much.
The opera was accompanied by Laetitia Orlandi on the piano. The work was originally scored for a chamber orchestra, but funds (and space at The Greenside) meant that this scaled down version was appropriate. To be honest I did not miss the orchestra, the piano being sufficient for the space.
The opera ended with a Neapolitan number with Herman Theron and chorus. As I said the additions detracted from the work itself, highlighting the difficulties of the venue and stage at The Greenside.
L’Occasione fa il Ladro is a charming work and I enjoyed it. It was Joburg’s only staged opera in 2013. For this alone, Reakopana Opera is to be commended. However, the work was musically pleasing as well and the fact that this opera was one which is out of the ordinary is a brave attempt at audience education and development.