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From stage to screen

British comedian Lenny Henry as Antipholis in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors; Russian soprano Anna Netrebko — described in the Guardian as “the ultimate modern incarnation of operatic divadom” — in the title role of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena; the second half of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, with Deborah Voigt as Brunnhilde; Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, a tribute to Gandhi, sung in Sanskrit —

Ster-Kinekor’s annual gift to seekers of high-end culture begins next month at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

On the schedule is a combination of the familiar and the obscure among the season’s Metropolitan Opera productions and National Theatre plays, filmed in performance.

Netrebko opens the Met season on November 4 in the role of the ill-fated queen.

Reviews of the production have been mixed but Netrebko’s performance — and that of Russian mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova, as Anne Boleyn’s successor, Jane Seymour — has drawn copious praise. The New Yorker especially notes Netrebko’s “opulent voice and megastar wattage”.

Next up is a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role.

Siegfried, the third in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, starts its run on November 25. The first two operas were filmed last year; the final, Götterdämmerung, arrives in March 2012.

Rarely seen masterpieces

The line-up includes a few operas one does not often see: Satyagraha, for example; Ernani, an early Verdi work; and Handel’s Rodelinda, which should draw big audiences because the hugely popular soprano, Renee Fleming, takes the title role.

But the old war horses are also on offer: Gounod’s Faust and Massenet’s Manon — Netrebka is back for this one. And what is an opera season without Verdi’s La Traviata? This season’s production features another popular diva, Natalie Dessay, as
Violetta.

Meanwhile, back at the National Theatre, the company has revived Arnold Wesker’s classic drama The Kitchen, presumably for an audience hooked on television cookery shows — it’s set in the work area of a West End restaurant in 1950s London. The first of four showings is on November 12.

Collaborators, John Hodge’s play about Mikhail Bulgakov in Moscow in 1938, will be screened in January, and The Comedy of Errors is set for March.

Operas run for a week — sometimes more, if the demand is there — but plays have very rigid schedules: four performances only, on Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday night and on Sunday afternoon.

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Barbara Ludman
Guest Author

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