Cape Town Opera, Camerata Tinta Barocca and Cape Town City Ballet joined forces during lockdown to create a physically-distanced film version of excerpts from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.
The film features a baroque orchestra, two opera singers, and six dancers, choreographed via video call by Mthuthuzeli November. The collaboration provides an emotional and artistic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a choreographed staging within the realities of social and physical distancing.
Only 5 years after making his debut in the UK, young South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November has been recognised at the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards, taking home the Olivier Award for Best Dance Production for his work Ingoma at an online ceremony last week.
Mthuthuzeli grew up in Xolani township in the Western Cape, and started dancing with Dance For All before enrolling at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA). He made his debut as a choreographer for the Cape Dance Company (where he also appeared as a dancer), before spreading his wings in London.
The film is based on the text that reflects on the suffering of Mary at the Crucifixion, and Pergolesi’s compact setting provides the jumping-off point for reflection on grief caused by the pandemic, and social and spatial alienation arriving in its wake.
Produced by Wyrd Films, and shot by Director of Photography Dewet van Rooyen, the Stabat Mater was filmed at Mothership Studios in one day, with the dancers, singers and musicians coming together at the last minute, and maintaining distance with the help of a large floor grid. The film showcases moving performances by singers Brittany Smith and Ané Pretorius, dancers Miles Carrott, Jan Kotze, Nicolas Laubscher, Mandla Mokoena, Kirstel Paterson and Gemma Trehearn Erik Dippenaar directs the players of the period-instrument orchestra Camerata Tinta Barocca, captured in excellent sound by recording engineer Gerhard Roux.
Proceeds from ticket sales will support the work of Cape Town Opera, Cape Town City Ballet and Camerata Tinta Barocca. The production of the Stabat Mater was proudly supported by the City of Cape Town and the Rupert Music Foundation.
The film can be streamed on-demand.
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