While opera and classical music have been a part of the Gaborone musical landscape for years, the art forms may now open up to larger audiences with the performance of a full opera in Setswana slated for April.
Andy Batshogile and Ame Mokoba have translated Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana from Italian into Setswana with the support of vocal trainer and pianist, David Slater. The Setswana version of Cavalleria Rusticana will premiere on April 19, 2011 at the No.1 Ladies Opera House as part of the Maitisong Festival.
Subsequent performances will take place on April 20th and 21st at the Opera House, and on 27th and 28th at the Maitisong theatre. Slater, of David Slater Music, was also at the forefront of the 2009 staging of the opera, The Okavango Macbeth, an exploration of power rivalries in a community of baboons.
The writer of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall-Smith wrote the Okavango Macbeth.
Slater explained to Showbiz recently that he likes to work on musical projects in a language that people understand. "I also thought that we should try to establish a tradition in Botswana in which we perform opera in
Cavalleria Rusticana tackles the subject of passion killings. It is a story of a young man (Turiddu) who goes off to military service and returns to his village to find that his fiancé (Lola) has married a prosperous village man (Alfio).
In revenge, the army man starts an affair with another young village girl (Santuzza). Lola becomes jealous of Santuzza, and starts an adulterous affair with Turiddu, which leads to a duel between Turiddu and Alfio. Tshenolo Batshogile, Boyce Batlang, Lucky Ramaloko, Bame Kopong and Maipelo Lesetedi will perform solos with the Sedibeng Choral Society.
When the Three Tenors performed extracts from the show on Sunday at the No. 1 Ladies Opera House, Botswana ambassador to America, Tebelelo Seretse applauded Slater for making the music and stories accessible. "I always tell people I don't understand opera, but this one today I understood," she quipped.