Lamento tells SA’s story in multi-media

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Lamento - The prisoner's wife and the Bishop 2 - Nombuso Ndladla and Ronald Melato.
Lamento – The prisoner’s wife and the Bishop 2 – Nombuso Ndladla and Ronald Melato.

What has happened in the past can shape the future; sometimes, forgiveness is a radical act. Now, in an innovative new production, Lamento at the Market Theatre, music written almost four centuries ago about these themes, becomes burningly relevant.

Umculo, in association with the Market Theatre and Windybrow Theatre, proudly presents Lamento, created by German-based South African tenor and director Kobie van Rensburg, at the Market Theatre, Newtown from 3 – 6 November, 2016. There will be two advance performances will be held at the Etienne Rousseau Theatre in Sasolburg on 26 and 27 October at 7pm.

Lamento - Braai the beloved country - Nick de Jager and Sibusiso Simelane.
Lamento – Braai the beloved country – Nick de Jager and Sibusiso Simelane.

Music by Claudio Monteverdi merges with contemporary multi-media presentation in a production that brings together singers, instrumentalists, lighting, video, computer animation and blue-screen to tell a story that is passionate and political. Images and narratives from South Africa’s present and past, inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, form the core of Lamento. Animated projected texts in English, Zulu and Afrikaans come alive and move through the sets, along with the singers.

Lamento - I am blonde, black and beautiful - Elsabe Richter and Nombuso Ndladla.
Lamento – I am blonde, black and beautiful – Elsabe Richter and Nombuso Ndladla.
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This will be the first time blue-screen technology has been used in a music theatre performance in South Africa and it is also the first time that some of Monteverdi’s music, including the 1624 “Battle of Tancredi and Clorinda”, has ever been performed in this country.

Monteverdi’s work talked about love and hatred, violence and forgiveness; it was also biting political satire. Van Rensburg adroitly brings 17th-century Italy and recent South Africa history into the here and now with a bold new work that is dark, funny, provocative and profound.

Lamento at the Market Theatre 3 - 6 November 2016
Lamento at the Market Theatre 3 – 6 November 2016

“Kobie’s work as a director has been winning awards and filling houses in Europe,” says Shirley Apthorp, director of Umculo. “Umculo is very proud to be able to present Lamento at the Market Theatre. It’s multi-layered and incredibly engaging, and somehow both precise and intensely lyrical. You can see why his shows are selling out in Germany, but at the same time what he has created here is uniquely South African. This is a love song to a country that is being torn apart by conflict, and a testimony to its capacity for healing.”

Five of South Africa’s most promising young classical singers – sopranos Elsabé Richter and Nombuso Ndlandla, tenor Nick de Jager and bass Ronald Paseka, with Bongani Mthombeni and Sibusiso Simelane alternating in the role of high tenor, will take the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions in search of truth and reconciliation in seven scenes where TRC hearings are addressed through the medium of opera.

“In fact”, says Apthorp, “to call it opera is a bit misleading. This is something new, made with gut-wrenchingly gorgeous music, to talk about things that matter today.”

The Lamento ensemble is made up of six instrumentalists on harpsichord/organ, chitarrone/ baroque guitar, cello, viola and two violins.

What drives us to hate and hurt each other? What hope is there when our leaders are corrupt? What is the point where victim and perpetrator meet? How do we deal with past wrongs? Can we truly forgive? Does love still have meaning?

These are among the questions posed by Lamento, an exploration of Desmond Tutu’s declaration: “I am a prisoner of hope.”
Season: Thursday 3 November – Sunday 6 November 2016

Press night: Thursday 3 November at 8pm
Venue: The John Kani Theatre
Performance times: Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm
Tickets: R95.00

Bookings: Computicket – 0861 915 8000 / Block bookings – contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 025 0377 (direct line) / 072 413 9247 or Ncebakazi Thintsila 079 946 3071.

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