1887

n South African Journal of Cultural History - Italian grand opera at the Cape of Good Hope : the 1875 and 1876 Cagli seasons

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Abstract

The history of Italian grand opera () remains a woefully underexplored topic in the cultural historiography of South Africa. The present article is intended to fill one of the many gaps by exploring the first two years of an ambitious undertaking by an Italian impresario and entrepreneur in Cape Town, Augusto Cagli, to arrange operatic seasons in the Mother City. It is demonstrated that initially the performances of works by Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini, and other renowned composers drew large audiences and received enthusiastic reviews from local critics. Before the end of the first season, however, attendance dwindled, and this lack of consistent public support continued in 1876. Adding ballet to the performances proved to be only a temporary nostrum. It is suggested, in accordance with contemporary journalistic commentary, that Cape Town at that time lacked a sufficiently large base of potential theatre-goers with sufficient musical sophistication and specific interest to sustain lengthy seasons of serious opera.


Die geskiedenis van die Italiaanse "Grand opera" () is steeds 'n besonder onontginde onderwerp in die kulturele historiografie van Suid-Afrika. Die artikel is geskryf met die doel om een van etlike leemtes te vul, naamlik 'n kritiese terugkyk na die eerste twee jaar van 'n ambisieuse onderneming deur 'n Italiaanse impresario en entrepreneur van Kaapstad, byname Augusto Cagli. Sy doelwit was om 'n "Grand opera"-seisoen in die Moederstad te reël. Die studie het uitgewys dat aanvanklike vertonings, geskoei op die werke van Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini en ander bekende komponiste, groot gehore getrek het en entoesiastiese resensies tot gevolg gehad het. Voor die afloop van die eerste seisoen het bywoning begin afgeneem. Die gebrek aan konsekwente openbare steun is ook gedurende die 1876-seisoen waargeneem. Die byvoeging van ballet as deel van die vertonings het slegs as 'n tydelike trekpleister gedien. Dit blyk dat Kaapstad in die jare onder bespreking 'n gebrek gehad het aan teatergangers met voldoende musikale gesofistikeerdheid. Die besonder lang tye van ernstige opera was dus moeilik om suksesvol te onderhou. Hierdie insigte is ook in harmonie met die eertydse joernalistieke kommentaar.

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/content/culture/29/1/EJC174624
2015-06-01
2016-12-08
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