On Friday 11 April 2014 I was present at the Roodepoort Theatre when Stefan Louw and his Aria! Opera for Everyone brought local audiences a truncated staged version of La Traviata.
Stefan Louw has been presenting gala concerts for a while now, but this is his first attempt at a staged opera highlights version, a concert which quickly sold out. Local audiences have been starved of opera for a long time. Back in the heyday of opera there were regular opera performances in Pretoria, in Johannesburg and in Roodepoort. In 2013 there was only one staged opera in all three places, a small production in the Greenside Theatre.
Personally, I like minimalist sets because they are seldom distracting or problematic, and I have a rich imagination which fills in the details as when I read a book. The same is true for costumes. There were only two main characters portrayed here, Violetta sung by Anina Wasserman and Alfredo sung by Stefan Louw. Eugene Joubert was at the piano and Marisa Louw narrated the role of Annina, Violetta’s maidservant. Daron Kanor and Joe Huyzen shared the position of conductor. Leanne Leuvennink (Flora), Muzi Mazibuko (Gastone), Johan van den Heever (Baron Duophol), Willem de Bruine (Marquis d’Obigny) and Kobus Minnie (Doctor) made up the ensemble.
The chorus comprised Agnes Smit, Anne Young, Billi-Jean Parker, Elna Lombaard, Heather Kruger, Leanne Leuvennink, Marisa Louw, Minda van der Walt, Naomi Grobbelaar (sopranos), Gabriella Broccardo, Karin Spottiswoode, Marika Coetzee, Sheila Smith (mezzos), Bulelani Dyani, Illario Broccardo, Muzi Mazibuko, Paul Sorenson, Vaughan Rautenbach, Vincent Smith (tenors), Felson d’Jaer, Frans Smit, Johan van den Heever, Johannn van Rooyen, Kobus Minnie, Louis Kotze, Steve Spottiswoode, Willem de Bruine (basses). Many of the chorus are members of the Pro Cantare choir.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed this, and I am now looking forward the next concert on 20 June 2014, featuring Sempre Opera. The ticket prices at R120.00 are very good value for money.