REVIEW: #MandelaTrilogy #WalesMillenniumCentre @TheCentre @CapeTown_Opera – Thu 25th August 2016

It was back in June 2012 that the Mandela Trilogy got its European premiere in Wales Millennium Centre, and in August 2016 it has returned and it feels like it never went away.

slider_three(1)It’s based on Nelson Mandela’s life within three acts. Act One is a very young Mandela, Act Two is when he becomes an integral part of the ANC and the struggle, and Act Three is based around his incarceration and his release in 1994.

Let’s be honest about this review, I’m not the biggest fan of opera. I appreciate it as an art form and understand how people can swept away within an aria – but for me I’m more of a Les Mis than a La Boheme kind of guy. But in saying that, each act of the Mandela Trilogy isn’t your standard opera – it has a definite jazz feel in act two (written by Mike Campbell), and act one and three (written by Peter Louis van Dijk) have definitely modern contemporary feel. My first idea of what it might be like was – and this may show my lack of education – I did expect it to be a bit Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It wasn’t, and I found myself liking that.

Although some may say the lack of a South African soundtrack does detract a little, but for me the orchestration was magnificent to say the least. You could feel immersed by the sound of the Cape Town Philarmonics conducted by Alex Fokkens.

The Mandela’s were all vocally brilliant – Aubrey Lodewyk (later life Mandela), Thato Machona (Younger Mandela) and Peace Nzirawa (freedom fighting Mandela). The female leads were fantastic too, with special mention to Candida Mosoma (Dolly), her performance of Meadowlands – wow.

You may have seen the films Invictus or the Long walk to freedom, but this opera will give you more of the journey of the man. Sometimes we see things in one way, and it takes something like this to learn a new way – and find out about the man more than the myth – for me anyway.

The performance all round was faultless – and if you want to have an evening of education and culture, you won’t go far wrong