New Opera to debut at Playhouse

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MORE than 50 classically trained Zambian musicians and singers will perform in the world premiere of a new contemporary opera at the Lusaka Playhouse tonight and tomorrow.
The OperaZ Orchestra, Kanon Choir and Team Jiva dancers will showcase some of the country’s best talent in Damyna Damyna, a story of drama, romance and intrigue that explores the conflicts of modern-day society.
Local performers will be joined by six guest musicians from the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Academy in Germany, and will be conducted by renowned conductor Theo Bross.
The opera stars soloists Lulu Imbula, Chrispin Lindunda, Paddy Mukando, Cathrin Mukupa, Stanley Musowe, Josephine Kachiza, Mate Mate and Portia Imbula.
Music direction is by Milupi Imbula, choreography (Michael Malambo), production design (Nadezda Chibanda), costumes (Charity Nyirongo) and stage manager (Chris Mulambwa).
Rehearsals are at an advanced stage for the collective’s first performance of the opera, which explores the conflicts between traditional rural life in Zambia and the attractions and challenges of modern urban living. Essentially a love story, the allegory also examines controversial issues surrounding orphans, donor influence, the gap between the rich and poor and the everyday struggles of rural life.
The opera is composed and written by long-term Zambia resident Peter Langmead, who has spent much of his working life travelling throughout Zambia for his work, drawing inspiration for the composition from his experiences and observation.
“Damyna Damyna” is about the realities of life familiar to many people, but the show also has magical touches and quite a few surprises.” says Langmead. “It is also an opportunity for people to see the remarkable – and often hidden talent – that we have in Zambia.”
Langmead’s vision is to restore opera’s reputation as an entertainment event for ordinary people, rather than an elitist art form. He aims to encourage and stage new compositions by new composers, and break the mould, rather than dwell on the traditional Western classical pieces.
Instead he hopes to impart his enthusiasm and passion for contemporary classical music to a new generation of young performers and artists who are keen to break down the barriers between old and new, traditional and modern, and classical and contemporary music.
Tickets for the opera, which is sponsored by Manzi Valley, Proflight Zambia, ProCharter, Amatheon Agri, Ngoma Dolce Music Academy and Langmead & Baker, are pegged at K200.

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