national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, June 25, 2016


(Lindokuhle Ngcobo plays the peddler Ali Hakim. Pic by Asok Rajh)

This year, six students from the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas return to Durban for a further collaboration between SMU and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Opera School and Choral Academy (OSCA).

The production is Oklahoma and the SMU students join up with 37 students from OSCA for four performances.

The collaborative efforts between SMU and UKZN began in 2000 when Professor Barbara Hill Moore came to work with talented singers and offer a bursary for an exceptional singer wishing to study in America.  Since then, she has worked with faculty and singers throughout the country, brought a group of 22 singers to South Africa to mount a collaborative concert version of Porgy and Bess in 2005: a class of eight students from SMU in 2011 to do a production of Bernstein’s West Side Story, 11 students in 2013 to do South Pacific,and yet another exciting collaboration with eight singers in 2014 to do Carousel.

Since 2000, Professor Hill Moore has awarded full bursaries and VISA support to 20 South African singers to come to America for advanced study. The award this year will go to Esewu Nobela, another UKZN graduate.

Among the singers she has brought to America in the past are Dr Bronwen Forbay; Lionel Mkhwanazi (presently on the UKZN faculty); Professor Patrick Tikolo (Chair of Voice at UCT); Mhlaba Buthelezi (presently teaching on the faculty at Tshwane Technikon University in Pretoria); Dr Conroy Cupido (Chair of Voice at North-West University Potchefstroom); Christiaan Bester (Assistant Professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas); Njabulo Mthimkhulu; Langelihle Mngxati; Ndumiso Nyoka; Maria Jooste; Lucretia Geswinnt; Otto Maidi; Phandulwazi Maseti; Selby Hlangu; Thandulwazi Ncube, and many others. These artists are singing and teaching in South Africa and throughout the world.  All are successful, creative and professionally admirable young artists who are creating, producing and performing professionally in their communities every day. 

The original Oklahoma!, a box-office smash, opened on Broadway, March 31, 1943, to rave reviews from the critics, sold out, ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances and won a special Pulitzer Prize. The show's creativity stimulated Rodgers and Hammerstein's contemporaries and ushered in the "Golden Age" of American musical theatre.

Based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs, Oklahoma! is set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906 and tells the story of a cowboy, Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancĂ©e, Ado Annie.

With a company of 43 singers and dancers, the Oklahoma! production will be presented in four performances: June 23 and 24 at 19h30 and June 25 and 26 at 14h00 in the Jubilee Hall of the Opera School and Choral Academy at UKZN.

Professor Hill Moore will produce the show and conduct the four-piece instrumental ensemble. Stage direction and choreography is by Roger Riggle of Washington, DC.

Admission is free and the audience is advised to arrive 30 minutes prior to the performance for optimal seating.