Opera production in the Western Cape : strategies in search of indigenization

Roos, Hilde (Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2010-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During the past few decades fascinating opera productions have been staged by South African opera companies, using strong local casts and strikingly indigenous interpretations of standard works from the canon. It appears that opera in South Africa has survived the tumultuous recent history of this country and is invigorated by the creative possibilities unleashed by its contexts. This dissertation explores whether and how opera production in the Western Cape has reacted to societal influences specific to South Africa. It launches an exploration of if and how the genre has ‘indigenized’ to become what it is today. The following themes present themselves during the course of this dissertation: the process through which opera has rooted itself in the country historically, the forms in and through which opera manifested itself in the Western Cape, how the art form has developed, to what extent local culture has influenced the art form and if, how and why opera production in the Western Cape has diverged from original Western operatic ideals. This dissertation is comprised of two sections representing, broadly, the past and the present. Chapters 1 and 2 are historical studies, whilst Chapters 3 and 4 discuss contemporary perspectives. Chapter 1 is an attempt to construct a history of opera in South Africa and serves as a background or frame for the ensuing chapters. This chapter will show that indigenization in its most subtle form can be traced in local opera productions long before the issue of the reflection of indigenous cultures in opera became relevant. Chapter 2 is a first attempt to account for the history of the Eoan Group, a so-called Coloured opera company who performed during South Africa’s Apartheid years. It investigates the far-reaching implications of the drive to ‘Europeanize’ indigenous culture, as exemplified in the opera productions of this group. Chapter 3 discusses a new opera composition, Hans Huyssen’s Masque (composed in 2005), focusing on the use of voice as it engages with the indigenization of the aesthetic model of voice production. Chapter 4 is an investigation into the functioning of Cape Town Opera. It investigates how a local opera company – an institution promoting opera as a Western form of art – negotiates its way through the tumultuous changes of post-Apartheid South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Operageselskappe in Suid-Afrika het gedurende die afgelope dekades verskeie fassinerende produksies op die planke gebring, produksies wat aansienlik deur inheemse interpretasies beïnvloed is en dikwels van inheemse sangers gebruik maak. Dit wil voorkom of opera in Suid-Afrika nie slegs die politieke omwentelinge van die onlangse verlede te bowe gekom het nie, maar ook produktief put uit impulse wat uit plaaslike omstandighede voortvloei. Die gedagte wat in hierdie proefskrif ondersoek word, is of en hoe opera produksie in die Weskaap op spesifiek Suid-Afrikaanse omstandighede gereageer het. Die bestudering van opera in die Weskaap deur die lens van verinheemsing fokus op die manier waarop opera in die land wortel geskiet het, die wyses waarop dit in die verlede en in die hede tot uiting gekom het, hoe produksie van die genre ontwikkel het, tot watter mate inheemse kulture operaproduksie en komposisie beïnvloed het en hoe en waarom operaproduksie in die Weskaap afgewyk het van oorspronklike Westerse ideale. Hierdie proefskrif bestaan uit twee dele wat die verlede en die hede verteenwoordig. Hoofstukke 1 en 2 behandel historiese gevallestudies en Hoofstukke 3 en 4 kontemporêre operapraktyke. Hoofstuk 1 onderneem om ’n geskiedenis van opera in Suid-Afrika te skets en dien as ’n vertrekpunt of konteks vir die daaropvolgende hoofstukke. Die hoofstuk dui aan dat verinheemsing reeds in subtiele vorm plaasgevind het in operaproduksie lank voor die vraagstuk oor die weerspieëling van inheemse kulture in opera relevant geword het. Hoofstuk 2 is ’n eerste poging om die geskiedenis van die Eoan Groep, ’n sogenaamde Kleurling operageselskap wat gedurende die Apartheidsjare in Suid-Afrika opera geproduseer het, neer te pen. Die hoofstuk ondersoek die verreikende implikasies van die veldtog om inheemse kulture in Suid-Afrika te verwesters. Hoofstuk 3 bespreek ’n nuwe operakomposisie, Hans Huyssen se Masque (gekomponeer in 2005) en fokus op die gebruik van stem en die kwessie van die verinheemsing van die estetiese model van stemproduksie. Hoofstuk 4 het as onderwerp die plaaslike operageselskap, Kaapstad Opera, en ondersoek hoe hierdie organisasie wat opera as ’n Westerste kunsvorm beoefen en bevorder, sy weg vind deur die ingrypende veranderinge wat post-Apartheid Suid- Afrika kenmerk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5207
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