Five: 20 – Operas Made in South Africa premiers at the Baxter Theatre from the 21 to 27 November. Presented by Cape Town Opera, the University of Cape Town (UCT) Opera School and the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) these five 20-minute long operas have been written by South African composers and writers to celebrate the South African College of Music’s Centenary year.

Each 20-minute opera is based on a South African story:

Out of Time, composed by Péter Louis van Dijk and directed by Geoffrey Hyland is a brief journey by ‘Black Taxi’ through prejudice, miscommunication, greed and xenophobia.

Saartjie, composed by Hendrik Hofmeyer and Fiona Herbst and directed by Geoffrey Hyland imagines Saartjie Baartman in Paris on New Year’s Eve 1815.

Tronkvoël composed by Martin Watt, librettist Alwyn Roux and directed by Marcus Desando is inspired by an event that occurred during the imprisonment of South African poet, painter and freedom fighter Breyten Breytenbach.

Words from a Broken String, with music by Peter Klatzow, libretto by Michael Williams and directed by Geoffrey Hyland tells the story of Lucy Lloyd, the nineteenth century linguist who with her brother in law William Bleek recorded the now extinct language of the San Bushmen. 

Hani, composed by Bongani Ndondana-Breen, with libretto by Mfundi Vundkla tells of the assassination of Chris Hani in 1993.

Five: 20 hopes to entice new audiences into theatres to see opera in short bites – musical sandwiches rather than a full course. It is an opportunity to extend the reach of African-made music and give a taste of the work of five seasoned South African composers and adept storytellers. It takes tremendous discipline to put these elements together to form a cogent work within 20 minutes,” said Michael Williams, Cape Town Opera Managing Director.

In addition to the five South African operas there will be a ‘special guest appearance’ of Scottish Opera’s Sublimation, a 15 minute opera by Nick Fell. It was Scottish Opera’s Five: 15 project that inspired Cape Town Opera to develop Five: 20 in celebration of SACM’s centenary year. In 2011 Scottish Opera will stage one of the Five: 20 operas.

Five: 20 was made possible by a grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and UCT’s Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA).

Bookings at Computicket with tickets starting at R100. For more information, call 021 410 9807 or email

For more information visit or or e-mail

Start: 21 Nov ’10 8:00 pm

End: 27 Nov ’10 9:00 pm

Cost: R100


Organizer: Cape Town Opera

Phone: +27 21 410 9807


Venue: Baxter Theatre 

Address: South Africa