Namibia’s first opera, developed in cooperation between German and Namibian artists, will have its premiere next month.
The opera is described as a dramatic work in one or more acts, set to music for singers and instrumentalists.
Gloria Nehoya, a marketing specialist from Opera Namibia, said the upcoming opera will be a massive collaborative project between artists from both countries, who have worked on their shared history and learned a new, open and positive attitude towards one towards the other.
The two-day event will take place at the National Theater of Namibia (NTN) on September 9-10.
The project was started by renowned music composer Eslon Hindundu from Namibia and music director Kim Mira Meyer from Germany in 2019.
According to Nehoya, the two music enthusiasts met while working together at the Immling opera festival in Bad Endorf.
Meyer worked as assistant director, while Hindundu was singer and choir director.
It was at this time that the idea of founding an opera project between the two countries was born, says Nehoya.
She adds that since they know each other, Hindundu and Meyer have established cooperation between the two countries to allow artistic exchanges for music, dance and theater.
“As part of the Opera Namibia joint venture, various projects have been and are still being created,” says Nehoya.
The first opera will feature ‘Chief Hijangua’ based on a Namibian story that has been passed down orally for generations.
It is sung in German and Otjiherero by various artists from Namibia, South Africa and Germany.
The opera will tell the story of a man who, through the manipulation of colonialist forces, destroys his livelihood and that of his people.
In the concept art, the four elements – fire, water, earth and air – are used as symbolism understandable across linguistic and cultural boundaries – an analogy to the upheavals caused by colonialism that still impact the world of today.
The opera also has the German roles of Pastor Trautmann, Major Lobenstein and the Pastor’s daughter Maria.
The event will also see performances by the group Vox Vitae Musica under the direction of Hinduundu.
The Vox Vitae Musica consists of over 90 musicians from Windhoek, who sing traditional African music.
Other performances will be by Munich band Momentbühne, conducted by Meyer.
“Writing the first Namibian opera is a great honor for me as a composer. This opera has the potential to have a positive impact on the contemporary Namibian music scene,” says Hindundu.
He says the project seeks to rekindle the love of music in the Namibian community in order to preserve and reflect upon Namibia’s history for present and future generations.
“Music should enlighten, entertain, show the chances and possibilities of the music industry and break down boundaries,” says Hindundu.
According to Meyer, in the initial planning phase of the opera, they often faced the accusation or prejudice that the Germans would now travel to Namibia to show how opera is done “correctly”.
“We have discussed this topic openly in the team from the beginning and counteract this prejudice by filling positions in both countries, whether artistic or organizational,” says Meyer, adding that the idea is not to do European or even German work. opera in Africa, but to develop together a whole new form of opera.
“We see the fact that we continue to encounter prejudices and fears in this process and the great challenge of our project.”
The event is supported by the Siemens Arts Program, the Munich Arts Council, the Goethe-Institut, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung and the German Embassy in Windhoek.