OPERA Z TACKLES GRUESOME KONGAMATO LEGEND - Press release, Feb 13, 2015
Fifty-strong cast showcases local talent
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Dinosaurs may still be living in Zambia’s North-Western Province, according to an legend that will be played out in a new musical show currently being put together in Lusaka.
Rehearsals are on-going for the Opera Z collective’s first performance of the opera, which explores the legend of the Kongamato – breaker of boats – a pterodactyl-like creature said to have been seen by the people of and explorers in the Mwinilunga district's Jiundu swamps and first documented in 1923.
The mysterious creature has variously been described as a modern-day Jurassic era dinosaur; an enormous bird – perhaps a saddle-billed stork; or a giant bat. There are no photographs, nor have any bodies been found, leaving the stories to rely on eyewitness accounts.
Preparations are underway of the second opera to be staged by the Opera Z classical music theatre company, with casting and rehearsals already started for the world premiere of a new contemporary opera, which dramatises the legend of the Kongamato.
More than 50 classically trained Zambian musicians, singers and dancers will perform in the opera at the Lusaka Playhouse from April 9-11, 2015.
The OperaZ Orchestra, chorus and dancers dancers will showcase some of the country’s best talent in The Legend of Konga Mato. The Opera, a story of love, war and intrigue that tells the tale of a village fisher boy who saves his chiefdom from the marauding Kongamato and wins the heart of their King’s daughter.
Performers will be led by conductor Daniel Siisii, and the opera stars soloists including Paddy Mukando, Nalu Lubose, Jerry Mudenda, Maimbolwa Akabana, Chrispin Lindunda, Stanley Musowe and Daniel Mwalwembe.
Music direction is by Baldwin Nasilele; choreography by Nadezda Chibanda; stage manager is Daniel Mwalwembe.
A costume and stage designer is still being sought.
The opera is composed and written by long-term Zambia resident Dr 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.
“The Legend of Konga Mato is an exciting, fast-paced and spectacular story, perfect for the subject of an opera.” said Dr Langmead. “It is also an opportunity for people to see the remarkable – and often hidden – talent that we have in Zambia.”
Dr 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 work.
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.
The opera will be staged at the Lusaka Playhouse at 19hrs on Thursday, April 9, Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11. Tickets are K200 and can be reserved by calling 0976 750044 or emailing OperaZ@langmead.com
OperaZ is a collective of talented classically trained Zambian singers and musicians, along with some of the country’s leading contemporary dancers.
The aim is to showcase new contemporary compositions through performances throughout Zambia and internationally.
The group also aims to nurture emerging classical music talent, inspire new musicians to reach their potential and provide a platform to bring work to a wider audience.
For more information visit www.operaz.com
Pic 1: Some members of OperaZ cast of The Legend of Konga Mato. The Opera. From left, solist Jerry Mudenda, conductor Daniel Siisii, singer Evelyn Chisenga, soloist Maimbolwa Akabana, music director Baldwin Nasilele, trombonist Patrick mwanza and percussionist Shimiti Milupi.
First meeting of orchestra and singers at Kabulonga offices of Langmead & Baker Ltd
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