Opera returns to Joburg Theatre with Mozart’s Don Giovanni opening from Friday evening on the iconic Mandela Stage.
The opera production features top international cast and crew, with Gauteng Choristers and music by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Juan Burgers will be on piano while one of Germany´s leading opera conductors, Johannes Stert will be conducting the musical production.
The title character is not an older Casanova, but a “dissolute, young nobleman”. The piece is a dark piece, not just in terms of the plot. Most of the scenes are at night, in a dark courtyard or room.#DonGiovanniSA
— Joburg Theatre (@joburgtheatre) August 12, 2022
Reporter Pearl Magubane spent time with South African-born Tenor Dr Musa Nkuna during rehearsals.
Dr Musa Nkuna’s musical background
Dr Musa Nkuna was born in Giyani to a musical family.
“My father is a composer; he writes mostly choral music. My mother is in a church choir. Growing up in a musical family evoked my interest in singing choral music. When I was 15, I met a Swiss missionary, Poled Robert, and he discovered my voice, when she heard me singing and thought I had a beautiful voice. She gave me singing lesson, theory and history taught me music, to read and write staff notation.”
From singing in the church and school choirs, Dr Musa went on to study music up to doctoral level.
Dr Musa has been living and working in Germany as an Opera singer and composer for the past 23 years.
“We are 28 years into democracy. Before all that, it was very difficult for black people to actually understand and appreciate classical music. It was not meant to be our music in a sense that it was not taught at schools, and this sounded foreign to us, even for older people before our time, they were not allowed to go to theatres and watch classical music and opera.”
Dr Musa has now returned to the country once again, as the production´s artistic consultant, but also performs the role of Don Ottavio.
“This promises to be a great production. I have put together a great international cast. So, we started this thing 10 years ago and at the time I spent a lot of time in Portugal, traveling back and forth to Germany. We started with Magic Flute in 2016 and now Don Giovanni,” says Dr Musa.
Described by Mozart as a “drama giocoso” meaning “funny drama”, Don Giovanni, is a combination of serious and comical opera.
Throughout the opera, Don Giovanni, the lover who used to be so successful, fails to seduce a woman as his magic no longer works, his dark, violent and misogynistic side emerges more strongly and is a deterrent, as Dr Musa explains.
“It’s a great opera…we have our Don Giovanni sung by Kevin Short. He is a celebrated opera singer who sings all over the world. We have Oliver, a celebrated Germany singer. (With) these two main roles, one cannot get a better singer.”
The comedy is described as dark, with rich voices and music.
The opera production will run until the 21st of August.