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Monday, June 8, 2009


Absence of starlight in no way diminished the enjoyment of the eleventh annual Starlight Pop Opera. (Review by Maurice Kort)

Absence of starlight in no way diminished the enjoyment of the eleventh annual Starlight Pop Opera with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) on a drizzling evening.

FNB has once again come to the party to sponsor the Starlight Pop Opera with the KZNPO at the Durban Country Club, an ideal venue, with all the stops being pulled out to facilitate easy, safe and convenient parking and arrangements being made for every desired convenience.

After a minimum of formal speeches of welcome the concert started in earnest with an exuberant "Olympic Spirit" (Williams) by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Richard Cock. Tumisho Masha of Top Billing was an excellent Master of Ceremonies introducing the various soloists with just the right amount of patter and the odd humorous aside. The first of these was Nicholas Nicolaidis with the well loved classical highlight Una Furtiva Lagrima from L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti) and who later thrilled with New York New York (Kander & Ebb arr. Walton), amongst others. Durban's own diva Bronwen Forbay sang both operatic and "pop" numbers, her Mein Herr Marquis, also known as “The Laughing Song”, from Die Fledermaus (Strauss) being one of the highlights of the concert, as was the overture from the same operetta which opened the second half of the programme.

Very much on the pop side of the evening were the very versatile and popular Ramaine Barreiro, the award winning jazz saxophonist Shannon Mowday and Timothy Moloi, a longstanding favourite with Durban audiences. Highlights of these artists, in a well-compiled programme to appeal to all tastes were Goldfinger (Barry, arr. Selby) and the finale of the concert Simply the Best (Chapman & Knight) by Ramaine Barreiro; African Medley (Mowday arr. Andrews) on several instruments as well as the saxophone by the very versatile Shannon Mowday; and That's Amore (Warren arr. Selby) by Timothy Moloi.

The Starlight Pop Opera on June 7 at 17h30 took place despite the threat of rain of which there was some, mostly as a fine drizzle but fortunately no big storm. The organisers, as a result, wisely chose to continue with the second half without an interval. All proceeded very smoothly with excellent video projections onto large screens on either side of the stage. The operators certainly know their trades with instant close-ups of the various instruments as they were played, in addition to the soloists and the conductor when appropriate.

This was also accompanied by great lighting effects on the backdrops and terrific fireworks in the finale. Even the lighting held out despite the inclement weather until the encores of Shout and We Are the World when the lights tripped. The show continued with the soloists in silhouette against the lit orchestra, a pleasant effect in itself, until the lights, fortunately, came on again. This again exemplifies the considerable thought and effort that go into this annual open air concert at the Durban Country Club.

This is the first such event that I have attended and I, like many others in Durban, look forward to next year's concert. – Maurice Kort