I was very excited when my sister got me a ticket to see the Mandela Trilogy Opera, at the Royal Festival Hall in London, for my birthday present. I have always wanted to go to the opera for the experience but the fact it was the Mandela Trilogy, about the life of Nelson Mandela, added to the levels of excitement. Finally I was going to the opera!
This Opera is a tribute to the remarkable life of the icon and legend Nelson Mandela, which was told in 3 acts in this operatic musical. Act 1, told the story of a young Nelson, his childhood in Qunu, his tribal initiation and later making his decision to leave the village for life in Johannesburg. Act 2, had bit of a jazz feel and told of his life in Sophiatown as a lawyer and becoming a political activist with the ANC. Act 3, told of his imprisonment and his eventual release in 1990.
All acts were told to a back drop of videos and pictures, with live music performed by London’s 12 Ensemble, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and the impressive (predominately black) Cape Town Opera – which were amazing considering how recently they have been allowed to perform in South Africa); it was a very compelling way of telling his life story. My only criticism might be that there wasn’t much diversity in the orchestra. I only spotted one black musician and considering they were telling the life story of Nelson Mandela and his fight for rights for all, it just goes to show the world of classical music still has some way to go regarding diversity.
The Mandela Trilogy was held in the Royal Festival Hall which is located in the South Bank Centre on the south bank of the river Thames in London. The South Bank Centre and the Royal Festival Hall is very wheelchair accessible with lots of lifts taking you to all different levels. One of the wheelchair access, which lifts takes you from level one to street level, is called the Nelson Mandela Lift which is located next to the Nelson Mandela statue (what a fitting venue in London for the production to be held in). There are also lots of wheelchair accessible facilities and a large wheelchair viewing area in the Royal Festival Hall with great views of the stage; I would certainly visit this venue again.
My first experience of opera was very enjoyable and I would certainly go to another. The audience was diverse, consisting of all age groups and ethnicities. It was a good way to dip my toe into the world of opera with this operatic tribute to Nelson Mandela. This production is on tour around the UK and Ireland with upcoming shows in Southampton, Dublin, Birmingham and Salford. I would highly recommend getting your tickets for a production near you for a wonderful night of culture.