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City in the Republic of South Africa. The Miranda-Harper Company was the first to perform opera there, at the Raadzaal in 1869. Several other companies followed from England, America, Australia and later, Johannesburg, presenting a predominantly English repertory. Until the first town hall was built in 1883, their usual venues were the old Wesleyan chapel and the Raadzaal. Local companies such as the Bloemfontein Dramatic and Operatic Company and the Ramblers’; Musical and Dramatic Society performed operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan during the 1880s and 1890s. The D’;Oyly Carte Opera Company inaugurated the Grand Theatre in 1906 and grand opera was first performed in the city by the Quinlan Opera Company in 1912 with great success. Light opera and musicals continued to be regularly performed by local companies. The headquarters of the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS) were established there in 1963; the Council is responsible for opera and ballet performances in the province. Opera is performed in the 964-seat Sand du Plessis Theatre, which was opened in ...

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Thomas Kaufman

(b Naples, 1873; d Bogotà, Aug 28, 1935). Italian impresario and cellist . He joined the orchestra of an Italian opera company touring the Balkans in 1890, and also performed in Egypt, but decided to try his hand as an impresario in 1895, giving performances in Alexandria (Alhambra Theatre) during August and September and in Cairo (Ezbekieh Gardens) for the next two months. The company was joined in Cairo by the young and not yet famous Enrico Caruso, who sang in five operas. Bracale was again impresario in Cairo, but at the much more important Khedivial theatre from 1908 to 1912; here he continued his practice of hiring outstanding young singers (Amelita Galli-Curci, Hipolito Lazaro) before they became famous. Salomea Krusceniski, Eugenia Burzio, Carmen Melis, Antonio Magini-Coletti and Eugenio Giraldoni also sang for him during these years. In 1912 he put on Aida at the Pyramids.

Bracale’s Latin-American activities began in ...

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Cairo  

Charles Pitt and Tarek H.A. Hassan

Capital of Egypt, the largest city in Africa. Opera came to Egypt in 1841, when an Italian touring company presented a season in Alexandria. Subsequently opera was given in Cairo; in the 1860s Adelina Patti sang there. In 1869 the khedive decided to build a new opera house in the city to mark the opening of the Suez Canal; the theatre, designed by Italian architects (seating 850 in three tiers of boxes, stalls and top gallery), opened later the same year, not with Aida, as is often stated, but with Rigoletto. Delays were caused by the Franco-Prussian War: the costumes and scenery for Aida were blocked in Paris, and the opera was not performed until the end of the second season in 1871, since when it has become a favourite, with revivals almost every season. (In 1912 it received its first presentation at the foot of the Pyramids.) From 1869...

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Article

City in Morocco. The country was a French Protectorate from 1912 until 1956. In 1922 Casablanca, which had become an important port and holiday resort, decided on the construction of the Théâtre Municipal. Built in four months and seating 1200, it was inaugurated on 22 December 1922 with a performance of Delibes’ ...

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Thomas Kaufman

( fl 1898–1918). Italian impresario . By 1899 he had spent four years in Egypt and the Balkans, and, starting in Odessa, had headed the first extended tour of the Russian provinces by an Italian company. Early that year, he reached Samarkand, later visiting Baku, Astrakhan and Saratov. He frequently visited Vilnius, Minsk and Riga during the early years of the century. He returned to the Balkans and Egypt in 1903–4. During 1905 he toured North Africa and then went through France into the Low Countries. On 26 April 1909 he opened a season at the Coronet Theatre in London, following it by several extended tours of the British Isles which lasted until around 1915. His was the first tour of Great Britain and Ireland presenting opera in Italian since Augustus Harris in the late summer and autumn of 1894. During lengthy portions of this period he split his company into two, one group singing in the British Isles while the other would perform in Warsaw, Odessa, the Baltic countries and the Balkans. Some of the better-known singers he engaged included Mattia Battistini, Maria Galvany, Antonio Magini-Coletti and Aida Gonzaga. He also introduced London audiences to Leoncavallo’s ...

Article

George J. Buelow

[Die unglückselige Cleopatra, Königin von Egypten, oder Die betrogene Staats-Liebe (‘The Unfortunate Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, or The Fraudulent State Love Affair’)]

Drama per musica in three acts by Johann Mattheson to a libretto by Friedrich Christian Feustking; Hamburg, 20 October 1704.

The libretto is loosely based on Roman history and the account of Mark Antony by Plutarch. In addition to Cleopatra (soprano), Marcus Antonius [Mark Antony] (tenor) and their children Candace (soprano), the young Cleopatra (Egyptian princess) and Ptolemaeus [Ptolemy] (alto; Egyptian prince), the cast includes Archibius (baritone), governor of Alexandria; Dercetaeus (tenor), freed servant of Antony; Caesar Augustus (baritone); Mandane (soprano), an Armenian princess in love with Ptolemy; Juba (tenor), Mauritanian crown prince; Proculejus (alto), Roman general; and Nemesis (soprano), goddess of vengeance.

Act 1 takes place after the disastrous battle at Actium where Antony led his and the Egyptians’ combined naval forces to defeat by the Romans of Augustus. Antony has fled to an island, where he swears he will become, like Timon of Athens, misanthropic and never again be lured into the arms of Cleopatra. The latter, however, arrives and quickly persuades her lover to rejoin her in another attempt to drive out the Romans from Egypt. Secondary pairings of lovers are established: Mandane (who is in the Roman camp) loves Ptolemy, but in their first encounter in Act 1 she finds him, she thinks, in the company of another woman, not recognizing Candace as his sister. Juba, also from the Roman camp, is attracted to Princess Candace. The Roman general Proculejus also loves Mandane. During a battle between Egyptian and Roman forces at the gates of Alexandria, Juba willingly surrenders to Antony, hoping thus to be brought close to Candace. The act ends with Caesar Augustus plotting to deceive both Antony and Cleopatra by offering his former Roman general freedom if he will lay down his arms, open Alexandria to the Romans, and hand over Cleopatra to him....

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James May

(Maria Sophia )

(b Durban, June 12, 1932). South African soprano . After initial studies in Johannesburg she was a pupil of Maria Hittorf and Joseph Witt in Vienna (from 1954). She made her début at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1956 as the Queen of Night, a role with which she achieved considerable fame and which she sang in most of the major opera houses in Europe. From ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Newcastle upon Tyne, Jan 7, 1908; d South Africa, May 1988). South African bass of English birth . He studied in Dresden, making his début in 1931 at Leipzig as Monterone (Rigoletto), later singing King Henry (Lohengrin), Osmin, Sarastro, Philip II and many Wagner roles. He appeared at Munich, Dresden, Vienna and Berlin, where he spent the war years. At Bayreuth (1942–4 and 1951) he sang Hagen, Fafner and Pogner. After an engagement at Munich, he joined Covent Garden in 1951. There he created John Claggart in Billy Budd (1951), Sir Walter Raleigh in Gloriana (1953) and Calkas in Walton’s Troilus and Cressida (1954). He sang the Doctor in the British stage première of Wozzeck (1952) and his repertory included King Mark, Hunding, Caspar, Pizarro, Ochs, Kečal, Sparafucile and Mozart’s Bartolo. From 1957 to his retirement in ...

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(b Vryheid, July 2, 1944). South African baritone. He studied and began his career in South Africa, making his stage début with the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal Opera in Johannesburg as Yamadori (Butterfly) in 1967. Further studies followed in London with Otakar Kraus, and he sang Mathieu in a concert performance of Andrea Chénier in 1970. He sang Valentin (Faust) at Barcelona in 1971, and was later a member of the ENO, 1973–81, his roles including Cecil (Maria Stuarda), Marcello and Posa. A warm-toned and polished stylist in the bel canto repertory, he made a speciality of lesser-known Bellini and Donizetti works in concert performances for the London Opera Society and stage productions by Opera Rara, for example in the title role of Torquato Tasso and as Corrado in Maria de Rudenz (Donizetti) and Ernesto in Il pirata (Bellini). He formally retired in ...

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Anthony Parr

(b Salisbury, Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], Aug 6, 1914; d Barnstaple, Devon, June 3, 1982). English poet and dramatist . He was described by Ezra Pound as ‘the lone wolf of English letters’. After 1945 he took part in the attempted renaissance of verse drama in England (he was initially influenced by T. S. Eliot), but the critical tide turned against these efforts in the late 1950s, and his plays are rarely if ever performed today. His Collected Poems were published in 1981. Among other activities, Duncan wrote librettos for Thomas Eastwood (Christopher Sly, 1960, and The Rebel, 1969), and collaborated with Benjamin Britten on a number of projects. He revised parts of Montagu Slater’s libretto for Peter Grimes (1945), and provided the libretto for The Rape of Lucretia (1946); Britten subsequently wrote the incidental music for Duncan’s verse play Stratton (1949)....

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Durban  

City in the Republic of South Africa. It contains the headquarters of the Natal Performing Arts Council (NAPAC), established in 1963, which is responsible for opera and ballet performances in Natal. Before 1985 opera was presented at the Alambra Theatre; since then it has been performed at the Opera (...

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Cairo, May 6, 1916). Egyptian composer . He received his education in French schools and graduated with a diploma in commercial studies. He studied music as well, but an injury ended his career as a performer and he turned to composition. In 1956 he visited Moscow and was greatly impressed by Khachaturian and Shostakovich. He returned there in 1967 to study composition with Khachaturian, whose influence played an important role in the development of his style.

’Antar (1947–9), in two acts, was composed to a play written totally in verse by the Egyptian poet Aḥmad Shawq̣i (1869–1932). The events in the play take place in the 6th century, some 50 years before Islam, and concern the warrior and poet ’Antar, who is in love with his cousin, ’Abla, and the many obstacles put in their way. It is written in a very traditional manner and represents the early stages of El-Shawān’s compositional style, tending to monody with harmony and counterpoint as embellishments....

Article

[Les fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les dieux d’Egypte (‘The Festivities of Hymen and Cupid, or The Egyptian Gods’)]

Opéra-ballet in a prologue and three entrées by Jean-Philippe Rameau to a libretto by (Jean-)Louis de Cahusac; Versailles, La Grande Ecurie, 15 March 1747.

Intended to appear as Les dieux d’Egypte, this work was adapted for the celebrations surrounding the dauphin’s second marriage, to Maria Josepha of Saxony. Its theme was fortuitously appropriate: each of the three entrées, ‘Osiris’, ‘Canope’ and ‘Aruéris, ou Les Isies’, culminates in the marriage of one of the Egyptian gods. In the first, Osiris (haute-contre) pacifies a tribe of Amazons and successfully woos the warlike queen Orthésie [Orthesia] (soprano). The second entrée concerns the love of the water god Canope [Canopus] (bass) and Memphis (soprano), a young virgin who is about to be sacrificed to him; at the height of the ceremony, Canopus causes the Nile to overflow and appears on a chariot drawn by crocodiles. He reveals that he is Nilée, the young mortal whom Memphis loves, and thereupon claims her as his bride. The final entrée involves Aruéris [Horus] (...

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James May

(b Palermo, March 5, 1915). South African baritone and producer of Italian birth. He studied in Genoa and with Stracciari in Rome and made his début as Germont in Genoa in 1937. A pilot in the Italian air force during the war, he was interned in Durban, where he settled. In 1949 he began teaching at the University of Cape Town, and he became the first director of the opera school there (1952–80). He produced and often sang in numerous operas for the University of Cape Town Opera Company, and in its London season in 1956–7 he sang the title role in the first British staged performance of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Fiasconaro produced for all the arts councils in South Africa, specializing in the works of Verdi and Puccini. As a singer his portrayal of Scarpia was perhaps his most memorable role.

D. Talbot: For the Love of Singing: 50 Years of Opera at UCT...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Durban, Dec 19, 1943). South African soprano . She studied in Durban and Vienna, making her début as Butterfly at Berne in 1965, then singing in Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Cologne. She made her London début as Luise in the British première of Henze’s Der junge Lord...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Vancouver, July 31, 1929; d Johannesburg, South Africa, September 11, 2011). Canadian bass . He studied at Santa Barbara with Lotte Lehmann and later at the Toronto Royal Conservatory. After a period as a principal with the Canadian Opera Company, he undertook further studies in New York and Milan. In 1961 he joined Sadler’s Wells Opera in London, with which he sang basso cantante roles in over 500 performances as well as appearing with Scottish Opera and the WNO. He took part in the English Opera Group première of Britten’s Curlew River (1964), made his début at Covent Garden in 1970 as Ferrando (Il trovatore) and at Glyndebourne in 1973 in Der Besuch der alten Dame (Einem); in 1975 he appeared there as Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, a role he had recorded under Stravinsky. In Canada he has sung the Grand Inquisitor and Daland (...

Article

James May

(Mario Giulio)

(b Milan, July 5, 1943). Italian bass-baritone and director resident in South Africa. He studied the piano and singing privately while reading science at the University of Cape Town. His singing teachers were Albina Bini, Adelheid Armhold and Frederick Dalberg in Cape Town and, in 1965–6, Carlo Tagliabue and Anna Pistolesi in Milan. He made his début as Kecal (The Bartered Bride) in Cape Town in 1965. Gobbato is best known for buffo roles such as Dr Bartolo (Il barbiere), Don Pasquale and Figaro (Il barbiere and Figaro); he was awarded the first Nederburg Prize for opera in 1971 for his portrayal of Papageno. He was resident producer at the Nico Malan Opera House in Cape Town, 1976–81, and head of the opera school of the University of Cape Town, 1982–8. In 1989 he was appointed director of opera for the Cape Performing Arts Board. He has directed – mainly from the Italian repertory – for all the arts councils in South Africa....

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Thomas Kaufman

(fl c1900–35). Italian impresario. Towards the end of the 19th century, his company was primarily active in touring the Balkans, Asia Minor and Egypt, with Smyrna (now Izmir), Athens, Cairo and Alexandria his favourite stops. During an extended tour of these cities, Giuseppe Anselmi was his leading singer. By 1903–4, he was beginning to head further north, going into Romania and Russia. From 1905 until late 1914 he toured Russia almost exclusively, frequently reaching the Trans-Caucasian region and even Central Asia and Siberia. In 1906 he crossed Siberia all the way to Vladivostok. By now his company had become something of a family affair, and included several brothers, two of whom conducted, and his daughter Ernestina, a soprano. During such a tour, they again reached Vladivostok in late 1914. Blocked by World War I from returning to Italy by the same route, they decided to go down the Chinese coast, stopping in several Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore before arriving in Batavia in ...

Article

Paul Corneilson

Libretto subject much used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its principal sources are the historical accounts of the Roman leader Julius Caesar as recorded in Plutarch’s Lives. Opera librettos have tended to focus either on Caesar’s visit to Egypt, where he falls in love with Cleopatra (the subject of Bernard Shaw’s play Caesar and Cleopatra), or on his assassination at the hands of his fellow Romans (as in William Shakespeare ’s tragedy Julius Caesar). They may be found under titles including Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Cesare in Alessandra, Cesare e Cleopatra, Cesare in Egitto, La morte di Cesare and Il trionfo di Cesare.

Possibly the first libretto featuring an episode from the life of Caesar was G. F. Busenello’s La prosperità in felice di Giulio Cesare dittatore (libretto published in 1656; possibly intended for the Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, with music attributed to Cavalli, but possibly not composed). Probably the earliest setting on the Caesar and Cleopatra theme is Cesti’s ...