Metamorphosis Of Opera In South Thesis

Length: 35 pages Sources: 35 Subject: Plays Type: Thesis Paper: #95964055 Related Topics: Tap Dancing, Devil In The White City, South Africa, Mother Tongue
Excerpt from Thesis :

As mentioned earlier on, the new political dispensation that took off is 1994 opened the "gates of creative possibility" (Roos,2010) for the opera producers since they were therefore able to juxtapose the Western and African art scenes. This was fueled by the sense of renewed intellectual and artistic access that way created by the new political dispensation. According to Roos (2010), theoretically, the new political dispensation culminated into an environment that is marked with an increased sense and rights in regards to freedom of association. The indigenous opera production as well as composition therefore was born in order to create something that is totally new and possessing unique characteristics.


The study was conducted quantitatively via a seminal review of literature and gathering of information for both primary and secondary sources. The primary source of data was Directors and management staff of opera houses as well as opera actors/performers. Government documents were also consulted in order to find facts on the transformation of opera in SA. The works of other scholars were also consulted in order to accomplish this research


Challenges and opportunities in the creation of the South African opera

In the process of transformation to what it currently is, the South African opera was faced with a number of challenges. This very dominant one was the lack of government subsidies (were all withdrawn) and there was no much private funding either. This lead to lack of the capacity to produce opera and even hold performances. The new era too has been indicated to have suffered from a set of drawbacks. Most of the challenges faced in the new era emanated from the stringent stipulations that were contained within the publication, White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage (ANC, June 1996). This is because the real implications of the policy which were stipulated in the white paper ended up exposing most of the South African musicians and composers in the European classical domain to a rather higher level of structural pressures die to the need to have a reflection of their indigenous cultures of their work environment (Roos,2010). The subsidies to be used for the production of opera were also granted on tough condition such as the need to include a more diversified demographical representation in regard to products and audiences.

In the 1990s however, the challenges that rocked opera production in South Africa were many and never confined to political interference. The other aspects of opera production that were affected are the artistic, aesthetic as well as the managerial aspects of opera production.

By 1990s, certain components of the Performing Arts Councils (PACs) had began to perform an organizational restructuring and realignment in order to create racial and cultural diversity (Pooley,2008,p.19).Gobbato (2008) indicated that by the 1990s, the possibility of the existence of a sizeable number of a quality and worthy vocal talents among the black South Africans could not be denied any longer. However,

"What became a pressing artistic issue, however, was the creation of a suitable operatic repertoire for these singers and the possible adaptation of the production styles of the standard repertoire to create novel dramatic possibilities and credibilities, given the sudden transformation of operatic casts from being 98% white to casts being 98% black" (Gobbato,2008)

The new funding structures that were adopted also forced several opera companies to start operating as private institutions in order to generate the much needed income for the productions of the operas. This means that most opera companies had to become innovative by creating better business models that could effectively operate as well as survive the harsh economic environment / reality.

About seventeen years after the new political dispensation, the South African opera has effectively consolidated as become an art form which is very invigorating to people of all race. Most of the opera companies are in fact participating in global tours as a result of their uniqueness.

By this year (2011) a total of four South African Opera companies have been producing in the country for number of years. They include; Cape Town Opera (Cape Town),Isango Portabello (Cape Town), Opera Africa (Johannesburg) as well as the Black Ensemble (Pretoria). The four South African companies are dependent on government subsidies to some extent but basically they operate as private companies.

In order to examine the


The local opera houses for instance has persisted with the negotiation of the traditional and cultural continuation within a framework of Most of the opera houses (Companies) have reflected the pressing desire for change that is characteristic of the South African society while at the same time exhibited signs of an progressing tradition. It is worth noting that the art which the deal in, opera is derived from the European tradition. There are therefore complementing and opposing forces of tradition and change that are active in the South African Opera today.

The origin and diffusion of opera in the major part of the world

Before exploring the transformation of opera in South Africa, it is worthwhile to consider how Opera metamorphosed in other parts of the world.The word Opera come from an Italian word meaning Work and helps in achieving the Baroque ambition of realizing the integration of all forms of art. Coupled with music, drama staging and costume design, which are the fundamental ingredients of art, the visibility of opera s an audible art cannot be disputed. Throughout it's existence, opera has clearly shown current trends in most of the arts through which it is composed. Architectural developments as well as paintings have all manifest themselves on the stages of opera in form of sets and costumes design used for specific performances. The effects of opera are also seen in visual arts that are beyond the stage and can be found in domains like decoration of houses of opera as well as portraits of both singers and composers. The power of music which is a feature unique to opera is specifically written for the several registers that exists in the voice of any singing human which is notably the best artistic means suited to aid in the expression of emotions while at the same time portrays character.

Opera in theaters

Like any other type of spectacle, opera originally was to express the noble prerogatives and was exclusively set and staged in courts. In the seventeenth century, entertainments that were lavish featuring fireworks and sensational effects in addition to the acoustic musical instruments, songs, speeches and dances were staged in Italy, the birthplace of Opera, to celebrate royal weddings or welcome guests that were considered to be very important. Although not in the modern sense, these opera still managed to achieve the integration of different entertainments that consequently helped to foster collaborations between the different forms of art which justified the theory upon which both the true opera and the ballet, which are not related in any way, developed. History has it that a group of active composers and dramatist, calling themselves the Florentine Camerata, in the city of Florence around the year 1600, went out their way to try and help in the revival of the classical Greek stage traditions which involved both music and drama complementing each other on the stage performances . During this period, the Florentine Camerata came up with recitations that was a type of a speech sung and mainly featured a solo voice accompanied by a vocal line expressions of text that is unadorned. The operas that were held in early times were mainly based on themes that were mythological or talked about persons that had characters deemed to be noble or better still helped promote ideals that were aristocratic in nature.

Music and drama were and are still the main features of any opera but the visual effects could not be ignored as they some times dominated most of the productions that were presented in the courts in both the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries In fact in some cases, those who designed the sets and the theatrical machines received more applause and accolade than the music composers. The effect that the audience had on the performance could not be ignored too. This is due to the darkening effect the audience had on the set as a result of the lack of conventional methods of darkening the theatre. This made the audience an integral part of the spectacle. This effect was achieved by arranging the audience in seats that were arranged in a magnificently garbed and orderly rows from which the spectators followed all the actions of the opera, which in many cases lasted hours, in librettos that are the little printed books produced specifically for the accession. In the recent times librettos form part of the text of the opera while the drama forms part of the set of the music unlike in the old…

Sources Used in Documents:


ABC (n.d). Introduction to Opera

African National Congress (1996)White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage (ANC, June 1996).

Cite this Document:

"Metamorphosis Of Opera In South" (2011, October 14) Retrieved August 2, 2021, from

"Metamorphosis Of Opera In South" 14 October 2011. Web.2 August. 2021. <>

"Metamorphosis Of Opera In South", 14 October 2011, Accessed.2 August. 2021,