DANCE

OPERA FUSION TO MESMERISE LUSAKA

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Unique fusion comes together with new-to-the-world composition

OperaZ dancers Morris Fenete and Margaret Lovemore Ngoma in rehearsals

OperaZ dancers Morris Fenete and Margaret Lovemore Ngoma in rehearsals

A new contemporary performance company is set to revolutionise the Zambian music scene with an exciting fusion of classical opera singing and hip hop dance.

OperaZ brings together talented Zambian classical opera singers, a classical orchestra and the vibrant street culture of some of the country’s leading hip hop dancers in what promises to be a radical shake-up of Zambia’s music scene.

Rehearsals are now underway for the collective’s first performance: Damyna Damyna, a new opera that explores the conflicts between traditional rural life in Zambia and the attractions and challenges of modern urban living.

Essentially a love story, the allegory also examines controversial issues surrounding modern-day slavery, donor influence, the gap between rich and poor and the everyday struggles of rural life.

The opera is composed and written by long-term Zambia resident Dr Peter Langmead, who has spent much of his working life travelling across Zambia for his work , drawing much of his inspiration for the composition from his experiences and observation during those journeys.

Some of the OperaZ singers, from left, Stanley Musowe, Lulu Imbula, Dude Mubuyaeta, Cathrine Mukpa and Maria Kandy Kachiza

Some of the OperaZ singers, from left, Stanley Musowe, Lulu Imbula, Dude Mubuyaeta, Cathrine Mukpa and Maria Kandy Kachiza

Damyna Damyna is about the realities of life familiar to many people, but the show also has magical touches and quite a few surprises.” said Dr Langmead. “It is also an opportunity for people to see the remarkable – and often hidden – talent that we have in Zambia.”

The lead role of orphaned Damyna is played by soprano Munalula Imbula. Other singers are Portia Imbula, Cathrine Mukupa, Maria Kachiza, Mate Mate, Dude Mubuyaeta, Stanley Musowe and Paddy Mukando.

They will be accompanied by an orchestra of trained Zambian classical musicians that is in the process of being assembled.

Some of the country’s top hip hop and contemporary dancers will complete the performance, including Morris Fenete, Wana Shachile, Frank Chris Sinyangwe, Margaret Lovemore Ngoma, Laura Chinkuli, and Winter Kasikili.

The opera is also a collaboration between of a range of other talented local artists and professionals, including well-known fashion designer Charity Nyirongo, who is designing spectacular costumes for the cast.

Dance impresario Michael Malambo is co-ordinating choreography.

Dr Langmead’s vision is to restore opera’s reputation as an entertainment for ordinary people, rather than an elitist art form. He aims to encourage and stage new compositions by new composers, and break the mould, rather than dwell on the traditional Western classical pieces.

Instead he hopes to impart his enthusiasm and passion for classical music to a new generation of young performers and artists who are keen to break down the barriers between old and new, traditional and modern, and classical and contemporary music.

The premiere of Damyna Damyna is scheduled for the first week of December, with tickets going on sale soon.