“Dear CTB, this morning I was positively incandescent with rage, mood set to foul, then I went to your concert. All those beautiful notes have made me quite smooth. Rage? What rage?! Thank you so much for making my day. I really needed this.”
So reads a recent comment on the Facebook page of Camerata Tinta Barocca, Cape Town’s much-lauded baroque ensemble of string players.
The ensemble – the name of which is apparently inspired from an equal love of music and red wine – includes some of Cape Town’s finest musicians, often playing some rarely-seen instruments.
Later this month Camerata Tinta Barocca is set to team up with Cape Town Opera for a production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo. Written in 1607 it is one of the earliest operas ever written, renowned for its hauntingly beautiful score. Orfeo follows Orpheus (played by Johannes Slabbert) as he descends into darkness of the underworld in search of his departed wife, Euridice (LeOui Rendsburg).
“The whole look of Orfeo is hip. Take Bridget Baker’s costumes as an example: amazing neon sneakers and outfits any hipster would die for. Orfeo has been designed not just as an opera but as an incredible piece of theatre that will leave you with questions, answers and beautiful music as you leave the theatre,” says Associate Director Magdalene Minnaar.
Orfeo also sees the opera debut for award-winning director and designer Jaco Bouwer (Balbesit, Rooiland, and Samsa-Masjein). Bouwer regards the myth of Orpheus, who brings his wife Eurydice from the underworld into the light of day only to lose her again, “as an allegory for the artist’s attempt to move the image out of obscurity into light, to make conscious the unconscious. In other words, the artist at work.”
“It is a universal human impulse to try to retrieve what is lost, to want to go back into the past and change it,” says Bouwer. “But we create underworlds in our own lives, by the keeping of secrets and by consigning parts of our experience to the realm of the forgotten. I want to explore these themes in relation to Orfeo.”
Bouwer has chosen to collaborate not just with singer/producer Magdalene Minnaar, but also choreographer Ina Wichterich and lighting designer Wolf Britz. It all bodes well for what Bouwer promises to be a “very visual” production – a fitting match then, for Monteverdi’s sublime score. As the composer himself proclaimed, “The end of all good music is to affect the soul.” If it can affect the eye too, then Orfeo may be too good a treat to pass up.
Orfeo runs at the Artscape Opera House 19 to 26 November. Tickets are R100 to R200, or R260 for the best seats PLUS a Greek-inspired dinner and a glass of Simonsig wine served after the performance in the Theatre Well. And remember – Opera Virgins can get the best seats for half price.