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Saturday, August 8, 2009


Classical favourite returns to the Durban stage. (Column by William Charlton-Perkins)

Durban’s classical dance and music enthusiasts have a rare treat in store when the KZNPO and conductor Naum Rousine go into theatrical mode next week, accompanying Cape Town City Ballet in its eagerly awaited production of Giselle in the Playhouse Opera. The celebrated 75-year-old dance company, South Africa’s oldest ballet company, was last seen in Durban 13 years ago, when it also performed Giselle.

The company’s recent triumphs at this year’s National Arts Festival suggest local audiences attending this most beloved of romantic stage classics can look forward to a superb theatre outing from one of South Africa’s premiere ballet companies in peak form as it performs one of the world’s greatest love stories. Not the least of the work’s powerful appeal, aside from the dramatic impact of its heroine’s heart breaking determination to save her faithless lover from death, is the ballet’s unfailingly melodic and atmospheric score by Adolph Adam, one of France’s leading composers in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The leading roles will be danced by Megan Swart, Celeste George, Xola Putye, Thomas Thorne, Mervyn Williams, Angela Hansford and Janine Laidlow. Performances are at 19h30 on August 14, at 14h00 and 19h40 on August 15, and at 15h00 on August 16. Tickets range from R70 to R120. Booking is through Computicket on 083 915 8000 or on 031-369 9540 or 031-369 9596 (office hours).

Meanwhile, KZNPO’s educational wing is in the final throes of presenting its biennial Omnibus programme for school audiences in the Durban City Hall. This takes place at 12h00 today (August 6), following two performances in this venue yesterday. The event features the KZN Youth Orchestra under the baton of Lykele Temmingh, performing Malcolm Arnold's Grand Festival Overture for Orchestra, 3 Vacuum Cleaners and Rifle; SA composer Peter Klatzow's children's story Tintinyane, narrated by Garth Anderson (great to hear he is back on our performance circuit); and Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture. Some 20 schools have been invited from areas including KwaMashu, Newlands East, Warner Beach, Wiggins and Umlazi, with the KZNPO providing transport to learners to and from the City Hall.

On the chamber music front, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Music will present three recitals over the next 10 days at Howard College Theatre. These start at 19h30. This evening (August 6) the Glasgow-based violinist, Ian Watson, accompanied by pianist Liezl-Maret Jacobs, will perform works by Mozart, Franck, Temmingh, Bartok, Pärt and Ysaÿe. Tickets are R50 and R30 (students and pensioners).

Gustavo Romero, the acclaimed Mexican-American concert pianist, will play a selection of Beethoven’s piano sonatas tomorrow evening (August 7) and on August 18. This is a continuation of his 2008 tour to South Africa where he launched his three-year cycle of all the Beethoven sonatas in seven recitals in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Tickets are R50 and R30 (concessions). For bookings, and for news regarding the Music Schools free lunch hour concerts every Monday from August 17, call 031-260 3353.

Friends of Music’s Vera Dubin reports that FOM has acquired a virtually new Kawai RX6 seven-foot grand piano, from Deon van Aswegen, who read a report in this column some weeks ago announcing FOM’s fundraising drive to buy a new piano. The transaction has cost FOM just R70,000 (which includes a R50,000 donation from the Beare Foundation) along with the exchange of FOM’s old Steinway. The new piano can be heard briefly in the prelude performance component of FOM’s next recital on August 25, before an international trio comprising Han Jonkers (guitar), Nicholas Corti (viola) and Bruno Meier (flute) take the spotlight.

FOM’s new piano will effectively be unveiled on September 8 in a song recital by Russian soprano Eugenia Grekova and pianist Irina Puryshinskaya; followed by a piano recital on September 22 by the admired 17-year old pianist, Jan Hugo. For programme details of these events, which start at 19h45, call 031 202 7822. Booking from FOM recitals at the Durban Jewish Club is through Computicket on 083 915 8000.