For the last few months Rob Fokkens has been focusing on his new opera, Bhekizizwe, which was rehearsed and filmed back in November.
Bhekizizwe – an operatic monodrama for baritone and five musicians
Composer: Robert Fokkens
Librettist: Mkhululi Mabija
Bhekizizwe explores questions of identity, race, immigration, parenthood and culture through the eyes and experiences of a young South African Zulu man. The production traces the life of Bhekizizwe Shange, from his childhood during the last years of apartheid in South Africa to studies and unexpected fatherhood in the UK in the early 2000s. Bhekizizwe draws on a range of musical and theatrical traditions – including traditional music and more recent styles from South Africa, British popular culture, and contemporary classical music – with a bilingual libretto in English and Zulu, and British-Zambian baritone Themba Mvula assuming multiple character roles as the story develops, moving backwards and forwards in time.
The scenario for Bhekizizwe was devised by Rob Fokkens (who is himself South African-born and currently is Senior Lecturer in Composition at Cardiff University), UK-based South African baritone and Kathleen Ferrier Award winner Njabulo Madlala, South African librettist Mkhululi Mabija, and British opera director Ben Davis.
Bhekizizwe was filmed in November 2020 at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff by Jan Capinski. This work is produced by Opera’r Ddraig with support from Arts Council Wales, Cardiff University, Chapter Arts Centre and Mid Wales Opera.
Bhekizizwe is schedule to be released as part of BBC Wales Festival programme (date TBC).
We are looking forward to the première of Bhekizizwe, and to publishing the score & parts in due course.