Friday 5 March 2021

Bhekizizwe: a new opera by Robert Fokkens from Cardiff-based Opera’r Ddraig explores questions of race, identity & more through the life of a young South African Zulu man

Robert Fokkens: Bhekizizwe - Themba Mvula - Opera’r Ddraig (Photo Kirsten McTernan)
Robert Fokkens: Bhekizizwe - Themba Mvula - Opera’r Ddraig (Photo Kirsten McTernan)

Based in Cardiff, Opera’r Ddraig is a women-led group which provides a professional training platform for emerging creatives interested in opera performance, production and administration, along with a new outlook on opera. The ensemble's latest production, Bhekizizwe, debuts on Sunday as part of Gŵyl 2021, a weekend of music, comedy and conversation from BBC Wales and Festival of Voice.

Bhekizizwe debuts at 3.30pm on Sunday 7 March, it is a new operatic monodrama by South African-born composer Robert Fokkens and South African librettist Mkhululi Mabija which moves backwards and forwards in time. With a bilingual English and Zulu libretto, it traces the life of a South African Zulu man from childhood during the last years of apartheid to studies and unexpected fatherhood in the UK in the early 2000s. In the process the pieces explores questions of identity, race, immigration, parenthood and culture, whilst drawing on a range of musical styles from traditional and popular to contemporary classical.

The production was filmed at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff and is directed by Benjamin Davis and with baritone Themba MVula in multiple roles. Bhekizizwe is Opera’r Ddraig first contemporary opera production, and Themba Mvula last appeared with them as Brandon in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love which was a co-production with the King's Head Theatre, in London [see Anthony's review]

Bhekizizwe will be available on-line for 30 days after broadcast, further details from the BBC website.

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