The Cape Town Opera is the first opera company in Africa to represent South Africa at the Asia Culture Center, performing Porgy and Bess in Seoul, South Korea.

The Cape Town Opera (CTO) is a non – profit performing arts organisation and fosters the growth of national identity. It represents a vibrant showcase of South African culture through musical and theatrical performances such as Mandela Trilogy and Tsotsi.

The theatrical performance of ‘Porgy and Bess’ made its way to the Asia Culture Centre in Seoul after a formal invitation was received and performed from 7 – 8 September, representing the cultural talent of Cape Town.

The Asia Culture Centre, based in Gwangju in Seoul, functions to integrate international performance art with the Asian community. It aims to establish cultural exchanges to bring about innovative artistic performances and broaden cultural boundaries.

With the Cape Town Opera, Porgy and Bess crew returning to Cape Town on 10 September, spokesperson for Cape Town Opera, Managing Director Elise Brunelle expressed the acclaim of the show received in South Korea.

“The audience in Gwangju was extremely positive – we saw audiences from primary school age right through to pensioners, all of whom actively responded to the South African voices and the story of Porgy and Bess on stage. The two performances were sold out,” she said.

‘Porgy and Bess’

‘Porgy and Bess’ is a folk opera show based on the Dubose Heyward novel, ‘Porgy’. The novel and story are internationally known by audiences in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The CTO has integrated a uniquely South African take on the story with inspiration taken from Soweto and its urban society of the seventies as a backdrop.

The performance represents the social imbalances present in South Africa – addressing the hardships of the early seventies to later years.

The performance consists of three acts featuring a mix of jazz, blues and Broadway-style music.

Set in with ‘Catfish Row’, a community moving into a derelict building welcoming newcomers to their home.

CTO Director, Christine Crouse explains that the story of Porgy and Bess echoes the sense of community found in townships. “Apart from all the hardship, our townships have often been referred to as the place where the heart of the nation beats and a very strong sense of community still exists today,”  she said.

A strong set of singers and musicians deliver a powerful performance and have wowed audiences such as The Telegraph who said, “the vibrancy and quality of the choral singing are inspiring throughout”.

The performance represents the hope of South Africans to prevail under difficult conditions, from the hardest times to the most fruitful.


Picture: The Cape Town Opera


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