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Opera for the Books

Event information

Two new books are launching – one charting the performance history of opera in Cape Town and the other on the life of the late South African repetiteur Gordon Jephtas.

The launch is presented by Opera UCT and will include performances by up-and-coming opera singers currently training at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

In Opera in Cape Town – The Critic’s Voice, Dr Wayne Muller writes about how opera critics have shaped audiences’ ideas especially the “Africanisation” of opera during the post-apartheid era.
“Sorry. I am what I am.” – The life and letters of the South African pianist and opera coach Gordon Jephtas (1943–92) – edited by scholars Dr Hilde Roos, Féroll-Jon Davids and Dr Chris Walton – is a collection of letters written by Jephtas to local soprano May Abrahamse that reveal striking stories about his life as an international repetiteur.

At this book launch, Roos and Davids discuss more about Jephtas’s life, and the audience will hear unique recordings of him during coaching sessions. Both Roos and Davids have done research on Jephtas’s life and work in Europe and the USA, where he died in 1992 in New York.

“We had 144 items – which included letters, postcards and telegrams – that could be included in the book. It is all about Gordon’s life; he was often self-critical and had a need to be acknowledged within the apartheid context. But at that time, a coloured man couldn't have a career in opera in his own country,” says Roos and Davids.

Muller’s book charts a reception history of opera in Cape Town from the specific perspective of the opera critics who reviewed opera performances in the city since the 1980s.The book traces how indigenous music, languages and cultural practices became part of the performance practice of the standard repertoire. Coupled with that, more than 20 new operas by South African composers were composed since 1995, which all tell unique South African stories.

Date: 21 May 2024

Time: 7pm

Price: R50 - R120

Venue address: Baxter Theatre Centre, Main Rd, Rondebosch, Cape Town

Wheelchair accessibility: Yes


Tel: 021 685 7880




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