DIANE DE BEER
Money or more pertinently funding is the asset that drives Gauteng Opera and helps them not only to function but to exist.
Following a closure scare in March this year due to lack of funds, Classic 1027 came on board with support and raised R400 000 for the company which allowed them to go ahead with the students who study at the Academy as well as holding on to the interns in the company for the time being.
It is a constant struggle though but quite a few measures have been taken to help financially in the future.
The company created by Neels Hansen and Mimi Coertse in 1999 with the aim of finding and training young talent unable to afford formal education, has achieved much but with their constant struggle for funding and tighter financial constraints all round, they have had to be even more proactive than usual.
Two newfound friends, experienced marketing experts, Collett Dawson and Claire Pacariz, both offered their many years of operating skills recently to put Gauteng Opera on a much more visible stage.
Already an all-round performing arts and entertainment company focusing on opera related productions, concerts and events, their scaling down earlier this year has turned them into a streamlined outfit but that also means fewer hands doing even more work.
This has never been a problem for founding member and CEO Arnold Cloete and his new artistic director Phenye Modiane with their slogan “Opera for Everyone”, encouraging and enthusing them to expose opera to varied audiences with different vocal offerings. This was also what these two women wanted to showcase a few weekends ago.
In the process they also introduced prospective clients to the facilities of the company’s recently established theatre and their base – Tin Town Theatre in Ferreirasdorp, that offers many possibilities as well as rehearsal facilities for everyone from dance companies to theatre.
The company is driven by excellence in vocal performance and theatre and pride themselves in being one of the foremost nurturers of quality vocal performance and theatre practitioners.
The reason their mandates are as broad as possible is to maintain a company at all, notes Cloete. In today’s world, opera companies in South Africa are fast disappearing and the artists of Gauteng Opera have no choice but to challenge the conventions of art while not being confined to the traditional operatic repertoire.
Performance is their endgame but for Gauteng Opera education and the development of South African singers is vital. Through sponsorships and support for the Academy, they train young talented singers without the financial support to study at accredited tertiary institutions and provide opportunities to develop their talent and performance experience during a three-year internship.
These trainees get tutoring in the various music disciplines such as singing technique, music theory, history of music, repertoire development and piano, the operatic languages, acting and movement. They form part of the Gauteng Opera chorus and perform regularly with the professional singers.
Gauteng Opera artists have performed throughout South Africa in various concerts, events and productions with the best orchestras South Africa has to offer. They are also involved in Community work with schools and charities.
Notable concert performances include Gauteng Opera’s One Voice: An African Celebration, annual Christmas Concerts and Forté in Concert. Opera productions include Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata in 2015, three short South African operas, performed under the banner, Cula Mzansi in 2015 and 2016, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore in 2016 and recently, Puccini’s La Bohème at the Joburg Theatre and Durban Playhouse.
To find and nurture resources to ensure their future, they have come up with a few options: The Friends of Gauteng Opera initiative permits individual patrons and businesses to support the company through monthly donations. Proceeds help Gauteng Opera meet monthly operational costs.
There’s also a sponsorship scheme for individual artists. A supporter builds a personal relationship with the adopted singer and contributes to their operational sustainability by meeting a portion of the artist’s monthly salary. The name of the adopter features in brackets behind the artist’s name in all event programmes and the artist undertakes to perform at an event of the sponsor’s choice, accompanied by a Gauteng Opera pianist. The supporter receives invitations to all Gauteng Opera productions during the sponsoring year.
The Build Gauteng Opera scheme helps to meet or minimize maintenance expenses. Contributors (private and corporate) are encouraged to donate building materials, equipment, kitchen appliances, fabric for theatrical costumes and other items. Facility enhancement also enables them to increase the desirability of the space as a venue for launches, presentations and other events which then develops an income stream by hiring out the Tin Town Theatre when the space is not required by Gauteng Opera.
Any of these will help to save one of South Africa’s leading entertainment and performing arts companies. Simply call Gauteng Opera on 011 067 8001 or make contact at email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to support them by attending their concerts, here are the next couple of events:
- Saturday, 29 September at 1pm; Gauteng Opera City Walk with Flying Cows of Jozie Concert at The Market Shed @ 1Fox – Concert – free entrance.
Bookings for the city walk: Josine Overdevest – email@example.com
- Saturday, 06 October at 3 and 8pm; The Merrow Down Estate Concerts at the Merry Down Country Club, Magaliesig, R150 per person
Bookings: Vera Harvey – firstname.lastname@example.org / 083 461 0857
- Saturday, 13 October at 7pm;
Rotary and CCJ Fundraising Event for GO, Country Club Johannesburg, Woodmead, R250 per person, include substantial snacks – cash bar;
Bookings: Denise Cruickshank email@example.com / 011 784 0617 / 083 448 4844
- Wednesday, 17 October at 7pm, La Trinita Dinner Concert at Kyalami Centre, R200 per person, a la carte menu;
Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org / 011 466 7949
- Sunday, 21 October at 3pm, 4th Sunday Afternoon Concert at Tin Town Theatre, Ferreirasdorp, R150 per person
Bookings: Arnold Cloete – email@example.com / 011 067 8001
Check under season banner for further concerts at http://www.gautengopera.org.