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Saturday, May 2, 2009


Classical Notes by William Charlton-Perkins.

Durban’s Friends of Music has launched a fundraising drive to buy a much-needed new concert grand piano.

The new piano will do justice to the high standard of pianists the association presents on a regular basis. Anyone who would like to contribute to the Friends of Music Piano Fund can post a cheque made out to Friends of Music, to Dr Vera Dubin, PO Box 51063, Musgrave, 4062.

This column will carry an ongoing status report regarding the amount of money that has been raised by appreciative music lovers as a token of appreciation for the many years’ of dedicated service Dr Dubin and her committee have given to our city’s musical life.

Meanwhile, note that Bellini’s La Sonnambula, one of the loveliest operatic scores of the Italian bel canto repertoire, is now showing at Cinema Nouveau as the latest screening in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series. Originally written for two great virtuoso opera stars, soprano Giuditta Pasta and tenor Giovanni Rubini, the opera premiered in Milan in 1831. Relatively rare stagings of the work were subsequently given in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, until the 50s and 60s, when occasional productions were mounted to showcase the exceptional gifts of sopranos such Maria Callas, Renata Scotto and Joan Sutherland. The new Met production, directed by Mary Zimmermann (who was responsible for the Company’s acclaimed 2007 Lucia di Lammermoor) stars Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez.

According to advance notices, Bellini’s pastoral masterpiece, which hinges around the innocuous comings and goings of a girl who sleepwalks, is here given something of a modern day make-over. It is staged (and filmed) as an opera within an opera, as we experience a professional company of singers in the process of rehearsing a production of the celebrated work. Novel or tricksy? We will carry a review shortly.

And so onto some notes about upcoming live music events in Durban and further afield this and next weekend.

A reminder that Naum Rousine and the KZN Philharmonic will give a Sinfonia Concert at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave Road this Sunday, May 3 at 11h30. The programme will feature Handel’s Arrival of Queen of Sheba and his Organ Concerto Opus 4 no. 1 in G minor (soloist Christopher Cockburn), and Haydn’s Symphony no.96.

Also this Sunday, Baroque 2000 will perform a programme of music by Handel, Geminiani and Telemann in the Church of the Monastery at Mariannhill. Tea, coffee and scones will be served in the garden outside the church before the performance, which starts at 3pm. Tickets cost R80 at the door.

For those who miss the tangy scents and evocative colours of autumn that are palpable to those who live inland, but less so to coastal dwellers, here’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a musical weekend in the KZN Midlands.

Join Music Revival next weekend (May 8 to 10) as it presents its first Nottingham Road Classical Music Festival. Make a weekend of it, and savour a feast of music making with pianist Christopher Duigan, guitarist James Grace, baritone Rolando Freschi, and flautist Sabine Baird. For full programme details, as well as suggestions for accommodation, meals and Midlands Meander attractions, log onto or call 033 342 3051.

Finally, a note that UKZN’S Opera School and Choral Academy will present two evenings of opera scenes on May 15 and 16. Excerpts will include Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni, and Donizetti’s Lélisir d’Amore. Performances are free and open to the public and will take place in the OSCA auditorium on the Howard College Campus on May 15 and May 16 at 19h30. Secure parking will be provided. The scenes are double cast and provide the opportunity for OSCA students to hone their craft in a congenial environment. Selected by Lionel Mkhwanazi, Lecturer in Classical Voice, the scenes will be directed by both Lionel and Bronwen Forbay, who recently joined the OSCA faculty. Andrew Warburton will accompany the performances on piano. Contact Patience Myeni in the OSCA office for further information, on 031 260 1672. – William Charlton-Perkins.