The Fairy Queen

In March 2012, Umculo│Cape Festival presented a fully-staged production of Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” in the context of far-reaching educational work which united existing partner organisations and expanded the Festival’s reach to a national level.

German stage director Robert Lehmeier, Pretoria-based conductor Gerben Grooten, and Umculo’s international education team joined South African designers and musicians for a production seen in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. A chorus of 30 school students from the Western Cape township of Kraaifontein and a cast of emerging young South African soloists joined an orchestra which brought together instrumentalists from the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with an ensemble of students from outreach projects around South Africa, in partnership with the South African National Youth Orchestra.



“Music can open previously unimaginable perspectives on the future in a society which is marked by violence, injustice and corruption.
However, this Fairy Queen is not a youth social project. … Purcell’s music in this production is more than just decorative wallpaper.
It has fire and humour. The voices of the young soloists are irresistible… everything is fresh, energetic and playful.

The juxtaposition of Shakespeare’s comedy with real life in today’s South Africa never seems contrived. The singers perform with passion,
verve and spirit, the orchestra provides a sensitive accompaniment… Purcell’s dizzying adaption of Shakespeare
in this new version seems taut and plausible, without losing any of its dreamy magic.”

Antonia Beermann/ Adrian Hermann, Opernwelt, Germany



Norwegian composer Ole Hamre has devised the “Folkofon”, a unique instrument made from ordinary people, video, and interactive live performance. His “Capeofon” was made especially for Umculo’s 2012 Cape Festival. In partnership with Infecting the City, the work was performed twice in March in downtown Cape Town for enthusiastic audiences. Ole Hamre devised the work together with South African pianist and composer Kyle Shepherd, and was joined by the choir of Kenmere Primary, from Kensington, Cape Town.

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