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Sunday, October 23, 2011


Three lead singers carry their respective roles with conviction and aplomb. (Review by Barbara Trofimczyk)

Friday evening's concert presented by KZNU's Opera in School (OSCA) in the Jubilee Hall, was given in collaboration with the Italian community in celebration of 150 years of Italian unification. It took the form of a student competition, and a performance of Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi.

Opening with a fine rendition of Verdi's Va Pensiero by the choral ensemble ably conducted by 3rd year student Kwazi Makhanya, there followed an impressive display of singing talent and sound vocal training with careful attention to pronunciation in the Italian arias sung by various students. Wayne Mkhize and Nomalungelo Zubane were the well-deserved joint winners of the Floating Trophy awarded.

The opera Gianni Schicchi, directed by Marcus Desando, and conducted by Lionel Mkhwanazi with Andrew Warburton on the piano, is the third in a "triptych" of one-act operas. Set in Florence in 1299, it is closely related to the "commedia del'arte" and opera buffa and is typically full of satirical treatments of the subject of greed and legacy-hunting and victims cheated out of their inheritance by a quick-witted joker! The action is swift and varied and full of wit and humour, and the music aids it at every point. There are very few static arias, one of which is Lauretta's well-known aria O mio babbino caro.

The production by OSCA succeeded in capturing these elements very well, and kept the audience well entertained throughout. Bravo, especially, to the three lead singers, Mthobisi Ndela (Gianni Schicchi), Nomalungelo Zubane (Lauretta), and Nonvsewu Silwane (Rinuccini) who carried their respective roles with conviction and aplomb.

Such a pity that the projected English sub-titles were not always clear. While it is easy to understand the story as it unfolds, being able to follow the text greatly enhances one's understanding of how the action is reflected in the music. - Barbara Trofimczyk