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PRESS: Cape Town Opera presents ‘SHORTS - A FESTIVAL OF POCKET OPERAS' at the Artscape

Allison Foat


This autumn, Cape Town Opera will present "SHORTS: A Festival of Pocket Operas," a captivating series of concise operas, at the Artscape Theatre from April 11 to April 21, 2024.

This diverse and dynamic festival promises to be a celebration of operatic innovation and storytelling, and features an impressive lineup, including the World Premiere of Conrad Asman’s "Trial by Media," a compelling new South African opera, Francis Poulenc’s "La voix humaine" (The Human Voice), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s comedic opera "The Impresario" (Der Schauspieldirektor), presented in English. Production and lighting design are by Allegra Bernacchioni and Kobus Rossouw, respectively.


"Trial by Media" by Conrad Asman delves into the complexities surrounding media perceptions of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The opera stars Cape Town Opera House Soloist soprano Brittany Smith, fresh from her acclaimed role as Maria in "The Sound of Music," and Conroy Scott, playing the Defence. Van Wyk Venter, a member of the CTO Judith Neilson Young Artist program, portrays Oscar Pistorius, with Tylor Lamani as the Prosecutor and Lusibalwethu Sesanti as the Judge. Directed by Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer, who also oversee costume design, this opera explores the profound effects of media coverage on public perceptions of the individuals involved in high-profile legal cases. José Dias is the musical director.


Directed by Magdalene Minnaar, "La voix humaine" (The Human Voice) features Janelle Visagie as The Woman, a role that earned her the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best Female Opera Singer in 2018. Based on Jean Cocteau’s 1950s play, this one-woman masterpiece by Poulenc portrays the harrowing effects of dementia, capturing the protagonist’s battle with the condition through fragmented memories and confusion. This emotionally resonant work was initially produced for the IMPAC Film Festival, with video elements curated by Pluto Panoussis.


"The Impresario," Mozart’s engaging comic opera, is presented in English and brings a lighthearted touch to the festival. Composed for a musical competition at Emperor Joseph II's request in 1786, the opera showcases Mozart’s comedic genius. Under the musical direction of Robin Phillips, the cast, directed by Elisabeth Manduell, includes guest soloist Alida Scheepers and Judith Neilson Young Artists Dineo Bokala, Mongezi Mosoaka, and Lonwabo Mose, with actor Dean de Klerk in a speaking role.

SHORTS-A Festival of Pocket Operas is at the Artscape Arena from 11 to 21 April 2024. Trial by Media is on 11 and 18 April at 6pm; the double bill – La voix humaine and The Impresario - is on 12 and 19 April at 18h00 and 19h30 respectively, and the triple bill featuring all three operas- Trial By Media, La Voix Humaine and The Impresario - takes place on 13,13,20,21 April at 15h00, 16h30 and 18h00 respectively. 

Cape Town Opera extends its deepest gratitude to the Judith Neilson Foundation for its extraordinary philanthropic support of its 25th anniversary season.

SHORTS: A festival of pocket operas is at the Artscape Arena from 11 to 21 April 2024 with tickets cost from R150 to R280 per person. For performance details and to book please visit Webtickets. 

PARENT GUIDANCE: Please note that for  La voix humaine parent guidance is advised while no under 10s are allowed into Trial By Media.  


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