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Cape Town Opera: Rising to the occasion during a milestone year

By Keith Bain

The future of CTO

      Even as scheduling a new season gets underway, and rehearsals for 2021 begin, the company remains on its toes, vigilant, cognisant that nothing is cast in stone.
     And the company – itself an organic, living thing with people at its heart – is ever-evolving.
     On top of the usual rigmarole, the extra burden, and added complexities posed by the pandemic, 2020 also saw the departure in June of Elise Brunelle, CTO managing director; her shoes, as of November, have been filled by Alex Gabriel.
     And stepping into Wild’s shoes when he departs next April to pursue an increasingly international directing career, is CTO’s new artistic director, Michael Hunt.
     Hunt’s work in opera has taken him from Wexford to the Faroe Islands, from Las Palmas to Portland, and his considerable achievements include directing Fidelio in the Gulag; the biggest site-specific opera work the world has yet seen, it was staged in Russia with a cast of over 600.
      Such sharing of expertise, know-how and talent goes to the heart of CTO’s dynamism, to the core of its creative essence. Its reputation may be built on the voices of its singers, but its aptitude as a performing arts organisation lies in the way it brings people together. And the extraordinary manner in which those people rise to the occasion. 
      ‘This is a ‘can do’ company,’ says Smith. ‘After two decades of resilience in the face of multiple challenges, it affords no small satisfaction to know that during this pandemic every member of our company is safe and well. We’re buoyant and bubbly with creativity, and in the most beautiful voice. That is for me the very best celebration of our 21st anniversary. 
     ‘It’s been a huge learning curve for a business in the performing arts. But we’re not daunted at all. Some things may be daunting at the time, but we have a look at it, we consult, we find out where we can collaborate, we leverage our networks. And I’m excited that for the next 21 years, and the next 21 years beyond, we are moving forward confidently.’

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