Review: Divas Unite

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Divas UniteThe question of what to do this year for Women’s Day came in the form of an invitation to Divas Unite. Some of SA’s top female artists headed the lineup, accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra at City Hall – under the baton of Brandon Phillips – in aid of the amaBele Belle’s charity, Project Flamingo.

With a programme featuring the mesmerizing South African sopranos Zanne Stapelberg, Noluvuyiso Mpofu and Magdalene Minnaar, the charismatic instrumental pop group Sterling EQ, Freshlyground’s effervescent Zolani Mahola, and the legendary divas Judy Page and Kim Kallie, a superb afternoon was certainly in the offing. Add in a (mostly) female version of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra especially for the occasion, the ever-energetic Katlego Maboe as MC and more, and choosing a highlight is almost impossible: every piece was met with roaring applause. Ranging from melancholic love songs to vibey African rhythms, the varied performances had everyone on the edge of their seats, hungry for more.

Stunning trio Sterling EQ opened the occasion with the iconic Asturias (Leyenda). The three sopranos’ rendition of ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story was an absolute treat, and they progressed from exquisite classical performances to pop-oriented songs in a manner that was elegantly executed. Zolani Mahola’s extremely emotional rendition of ‘I’d Like’ tugged at our heartstrings and tears welled up in several eyes. The interval was preceded by Kim Kallie’s ‘Cry Me a River’ – fabulously sung – followed by her mom Judy Page’s fantastic performance of ‘New York, New York’.

After the interval, during which we were treated to Butler’s Pizza, Pongracz MCC, deliciously decadent cupcakes and Frey Swiss chocolate, the concert resumed with the splendid duet from Phantom of the Opera, sung by Darren Green and Magdalene Minnaar, an extremely passionate performance of ‘Milonga de la Anunciacion’ from the tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires by Zanne Stapelberg, a beautiful ‘Have you seen my Childhood/Children will Listen’ duet by Page and Kallie, and ‘Caruso’ by Sterling EQ. The rest of the programme contained highlight after highlight, but this much can be said: the sheer force of femininity coupled with passionate music filled the air with a power so unique it was almost tangible.

When all the performers came onto the stage for the Grand Finale to sing ‘We are the World’ together with the Sans Souci school choir who had sung ‘Hear our Hearts, Feel our Minds’ just moments before, the atmosphere in one of Cape Town’s most iconic buildings reached its peak. The audience leapt to its feet for a standing ovation, and stayed upright for the marvellous encore of Freshlyground’s song ‘Doo Be Doo’, which had everyone singing and dancing along.

This event ticked all the boxes: Brilliant organisation, professional execution, marvellously talented performers, great cause. There was variety, style and diversity in the entertainment, a charismatic MC, a perfect location, excellent catering. In short, Divas Unite was a spectacular success. Highly recommended. And we are looking forward to the 2016 installment.

Marie Stinnes

Divas Unite took place at Cape Town City Hall on Women’s Day, 9 August 2015.

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