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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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The Johannesburg Opera: Where music and Italian cuisine meet

Supplied image.

Supplied image.

Published May 22, 2022


Johannesburg - When life hands you lemons, make lemon juice or perhaps, Italian food and add a sprinkling of opera. This is exactly what a collaboration between Johannesburg Opera and a Hyde Park restaurant, Moda, hope to achieve.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the entertainment industry and many businesses are still trying to recover from the enormous losses suffered. Some of these losses include the closing of Gauteng Opera in 2019.

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But how can Gauteng not have an opera body? The question was posed and answered by opera singer Phenye Modiane, who started the Johannesburg Opera in 2019 and he did so with just three full-time workers. For the love of opera and the arts, of course.

“I have been singing for the past 17 years and started Johannesburg Opera from scratch. We have applied to the Department of Arts and Culture for funding but nothing has come of that application. Arts companies always need funding and we have to start being creative about it,” he said.

Modiane said while they only have three full-time staff members, they do use other artists on an ad hoc basis for performances.

“The lack of funding simply doesn’t allow for us to have more staff members, but we are doing the best we can under the circumstances,” he said.

Enter Dean Ebden, owner of Moda restaurant, who said business owners are simply trying to re-imagine their brand and he hopes the collab will provide a much-needed boost to both Moda and Johannesburg Opera.

“The entertainment industry suffered greatly. Working with Jozi Opera provides a platform and extended reach to businesses who are trying to find their feet again. They are doing a fantastic job with limited resources. Maybe this idea will be the start for many others as we try to boost the economy,” he said.

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Moda and Johannesburg Opera will be hosting an autumn afternoon of opera music and good food on May 29 and are calling on lovers of the arts to support this unique fund-raiser.

“Since the pandemic, people have not had the opportunity to see many live shows. We are going to perform well-known tunes of opera, some pop opera, and it’s going to be a lovely afternoon for guests to enjoy,” said Modiane.

The opera star will be joined at Moda by fellow singers Solly Motaung and Winie Mahlangu.

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For tickets, contact Dean at 082 371 7340.

The Saturday Star