The community of arts and culture in Johannesburg is preparing to mourn the closing of the Gauteng Opera.
The opera company released a statement earlier this month, announcing that they would be closing their doors for good, after their last performance.
The sad news regarding the end of the company displays the lack of love we had no knowledge was festering within the country.
Despite its 18-year run, the news of the opera’s closing grabbed little to no attention, and – although there is no comparison of venues being implied here – were another company, such as the Joburg Ballet or Nelson Mandela Theatre, to be closing, there would be much more news coverage and campaigns to raise government and public support.
The Gauteng Opera said in their statement that their last show would be Sacred Songs, a performance which would not only signal the company’s farewell to Johannesburg, but also a tribute to the company’s staff and performers who have helped to forge the excellent reputation the opera has today.
Since its inception in 2000, the Gauteng Opera has dazzled audiences and cultivated spectacular opera singers who have continued to impress South African and international audiences in shows such as La Traviata, L’elisir D’amore and One Voice.
Opera singer Njabulo Madlala commented on Facebook: “I heard so much incredible talent. They all have these voices, but no work and nowhere to work. There is little hope. We need intervention in South Africa.”
Madlala hit the right note about the need for intervention.
The news of the closure invoked no reaction from the Gauteng MEC or the minister of Arts and Culture, whether via a formal press statement or comment on any social media platforms. Both departments’ lack of response only proves the lack of love and support for these artistic fields. Support is only provided for those who attract big audiences or attention from the press and potential investors (think of the popularity of ballet or pantomime).
The Gauteng Opera has held performances over the past 18 years featuring include well-known names such as Phenye Modiane and Solly Motaung, who graced the stage with their melodious voices.
The opera company receives good reviews and reactions from international fans, yet receives no love from its own government and must rely on foreign and private investment.
The world of arts and culture within South Africa is a very fickle world, as many South Africans will not – or choose not – to appreciate the artistic creations of their fellow South Africans, unless in the form of contemporary music, dance or drama.
It took the announcement of the Gauteng Opera’s closing for it to grab the attention of social media users and admirers of art, and to discover that no form of art is safe from foreclosure – and who is to say that the Mandela Theatre or the Joburg Ballet are safe from hosting their final shows years from now?
* Sacred Songs will be performed on Sunday, March 18, at the Tin Town Theatre.
The Gauteng Opera company has announced it will be closing its doors for good.