JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A sexy dose of jazz and the refined strains of Western opera and traditional Xhosa song drive a new opera about South Africa’s former president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.
The range of musical styles in “Mandela Trilogy” reflects South Africa’s mix of cultures, the production’s writer and director Michael Williams said in an interview before a dress rehearsal on Friday.
The scenes in the village allow the singers to showcase the hymn-like power of African choral music. As the setting moves to Johannesburg, it’s clear that African jazz easily crossed the boundaries apartheid tried to draw between black and white, African and European. The classical sections, said Philisa Sibeko who sings the role of Mandela’s second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, draw on opera’s storytelling strengths.