Mont du Toit winery is one of 26 wineries that form part of the Wellington winelands district. This relatively small wine region has received an impressive array of accolades for their wines, and it now appears that the excellent wine selection is not the only surprise to be found in their cellars!
The working wine cellar of Mont du Toit winery was recently the venue of an exquisitely unique concert by members of the Cape Consort and the South African Early Music Trust. Passion and obsession, devotion and jealousy, beauty and vanity, love and sex. These were the dualities of the Venus/Aphrodite archetype that audiences were invited to explore through a musical looking glass in the rustic surrounds of the winery.
The Cape Consort has firmly established itself as the leading ensemble of Early Music repertoire here in the Western Cape and arguably also in South Africa. The ensemble is committed to period performances of (mostly) Early Music and the reaction of audiences all over has been overwhelmingly positive. In 2011 the Oudtshoorn Klein Karoo Klassique hosted the Cape Consort with three different programmes of Early Music repertoire and in 2012 the sold-out performances of The Monteverdi project at the Fugard Theatre (read our review) had audiences raving for more. The Cape Consort also won the ‘Woordtrofee’ for the best classical production at the Woordfees in March this year.
The inspiration behind their latest production, The Goddess in the Looking Glass, is a selection of seductive Renaissance poetry and duets by Monteverdi, Handel and Carissimi that drip with feminine sensuality. Sopranos Lente Louw and Antoinette Blyth personified the Venus/Aphrodite archetype and internationally acclaimed Baroque instrumentalists Erik Dippenaar (harpsichord), Uwe Grosser (Renaissance lute, chitarrone) and Hans Huyssen (Baroque cello) provided the accompaniment.
One of the objectives of this ensemble is to contextualise Early Music repertoire for contemporary audiences. Their main focus is twofold: to highlight the meaning of the music itself, and to facilitate meaningful communication with the audience through the music. It is for this reason that the intimate cellar venue at Mont du Toit was so appropriate for this audacious and sensual production. With all the lights turned out and candles providing the only flicker of illumination against the wine tanks, the audience was able to focus exclusively on the music.
Louw and Blyth’s voices were nothing less than mesmerising. The audience sat spellbound throughout the performance as we got entangled in a tale of love, vanity and passion, highlighted by such songs as Quel Fior che l’Alba Ride and No, di Voi non Vo’Fidarmi by George Friedrich Händel. The accompaniment as well as the instrumental intervals provided the perfect support to the delicate and seductive theme of the evening and everybody was visibly and audibly disappointed when the programme came to an end. Comfortably seated and tucked under blankets against the cold, we could happily have listened to more.
After the performance, audience members were guided along a candlelit path back to the main house, where a warm fire place, the excellent wines of Mont du Toit, and a delectable table of canapés were awaiting us. The excited chatter about music, winemaking and, of course, love, continued till late into the night with much anticipation of the next intimate gathering at Mont du Toit winery. Fans of the Cape Consort group can look forward to the release of their recently recorded CD containing their Matrix of the Madrigal programme.
Andra le Roux-Kemp
The Goddess in the Looking Glass was presented by the Cape Consort and the South African Early Music Trust at Mont du Toit Kelder, Wellington on 1 September 2012.
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Peter Klatzow: Chamber Music by Andra le Roux-Kemp: ‘The vigorous and exciting dialogue between piano and cello in the third movement was so exhilarating that the audience was bursting to applaud before the finale had even been reached.’
Franschhoek Uncorked by Andra le Roux-Kemp: ‘As though they had uncorked themselves, people made themselves quite at home at this picturesque winery situated on the foothills of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.’