by Paula Citron
South African-born Bongani Ndodana-Breen, artistic director of MusicaNoir, is a black classical composer, and his contribution to the Luminato Festival is The Passion of Winnie, the opera-cum-dramatic cantata inspired by the life of Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela which he wrote with librettist Warren Wilensky. The piece has promise but it needs work.
Only the first part was performed in this concert version. It has two characters – Winnie and her father – and a chorus of six. Nelson Mandela never makes an appearance. Ndodana’s music is modernist and attractive, but at the moment, the work is disjointed and too narrative. There is an absence of any real drama, although there are interesting still photos and a film component projected on the three screens. There should also be projected surtitles because words are missed.
Mezzo-soprano Chantelle Grant is very talented and is excellent as Winnie, but sadly, Welcome Ngozi as her father is not an opera singer and is miscast.
From the Isabel Bader Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.