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A feast of opera Print E-mail

The Promusica Orchestra

The Promusica Theatre in Roodepoort is celebrating its birthday in style – with concerts.

THE Joburg Promusica Theatre is celebrating its 27th birthday this month, with its orchestra turning 24.

As part of the festivities, the theatre will host two orchestral and choral birthday concerts at its premises in Florida Park, Roodepoort, this month.

The first concert marks the 24th birthday of the Promusica Orchestra on Sunday, 10 February and will feature a programme of much-loved classic pieces such as the Overture to Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio; and the chorus of Gloria all' Eggito and the Great March from Verdi's opera Aida.

Also on the programme are renditions of the Sinfonia from Verdi's opera Nabucco followed by the Bridal Chorus from Wagner's opera Lohengrin and the Overture to Mozart's Il Seraglio. The concert starts at 3.30pm.

"Joburg Promusica strives for excellence," says Prisha Singh, the theatre's marketing and communications manager.

On Friday, 15 February at 8pm, a concert will celebrate the theatre's 27 years of business.

The Joburg Promusica Theatre officially celebrates its birthday on 14 February while its Orchestra marks its anniversary on 11 February.

The theatre has been a patron of opera and classical music since 1981, when it used to be known as the Roodepoort City Opera Company.

"I feel gratified to have been a part of the theatre and the orchestra for that long. We are actually the oldest performing arts production company and the second surviving orchestra in the country, so that gives me enormous gratitude," says Weiss Doubell, its artistic director and conductor.

Doubell agrees that during his tenure at the helm of the company, he has had many highlights, but finds it hard to distinguish which were significantly noteworthy. "My highlights I think include lowlights as well," he says, laughing, while adding, "but the most outstanding have been when we performed alongside the world's best on our stage."

One that really struck the veteran conductor was the debut (which made history) of Angelina Thabane in 1982. Thabane was the first black soprano to make a professional operatic debut in South Africa; she is now enjoying a successful career in Britain.

When talking about his protégées, Doubell mentions the likes of Johan Botha, Hanli Stapela, Estelle Kruger and many more; he is proud that they catapulted to stardom on the Promusica stage.

To date, Doubell notes, 71 of the country's opera singers made their professional debuts on the Promusica stage. Some 44 have gone on to professional careers as singers, chorus masters and academics all over the world.

This makes him grateful, he notes modestly. "It is enormously pleasing to know that they started here, on our stage."

On the subject of retirement, Doubell says that because an opera conductor is like an old soldier, one who never dies but rather fades away, his passion for opera and performing arts generally will only be terminated by time or his demise. "I think the talent in this country is incredible. Young people just need to work hard and be dedicated to what they do. Part of their reward will be greater than what they expect."

In September 2007 the company strategically planned and revamped its theatre to introduce a new corporate identity and its current name, Joburg Promusica Theatre. The transition was aimed at showcasing the full extent of the theatre's aesthetic and technical facilities.

The Joburg Promusica Theatre is a performing arts production company which offers a variety of tuition schemes that allow performers from disadvantaged communities an opportunity to become professional musicians. It encompasses the Pro Musica Opera Company, the Pro Musica Orchestra, the Pro Musica String Quartet, the Pro Musica Opera Chorus and a Vocal and Instrumental Tuition Scheme.

The theatre hosts other productions presented by external companies such as ballet, dance, drama, children's theatre, conferences and launches. It has a 320-seat auditorium which offers a lovely, intimate setting with superb acoustics.

Ticket prices for the birthday concerts range from R80, R120 to R160 and can be purchased at the theatre's Computicket outlet. A discount of 25 percent is available for the R120 and R160 tickets for pensioners and students as well as groups of 10 or more.

The Joburg Promusica Theatre is on Christiaan de Wet Drive in Florida Park, Roodepoort, in western Johannesburg. For more information or assistance with bookings, contact Nico at the Theatre on 011 674 1357/8 or visit the Joburg Promusica website on For credit card bookings contact Queen at the theatre on 011 672 2217.

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Last Updated on 19 February 2008