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Tronkvoël is a short opera composed by Martin Watt with librettist Alwyn Roux.

Original text

The opera is inspired by an event that occurred during the imprisonment of South African poet, painter and freedom fighter Breyten Breytenbach. The opera is set against the backdrop of 1970s apartheid South Africa at Pretoria’s notorious C-Max prison. Writer and poet Breyten Breytenbach was imprisoned there for two years for high treason, just metres away from the gallows. It is here, in the shadow of death, that the images conjured from the grotesque sounds of suffering come to haunt him.


2010: Presented at the Baxter Theatre (November), directed by Marcus Desando, as part of Five:20 Operas Made in SA

2015: Presented by Gauteng Opera at the Soweto Theatre (August), directed by Tshepo Ratona. This short opera featured Sibusiso Shandu, Coert Grobbelaar, Kagiso Boroko and Elizabeth Lombard, conducted by Graham Scott, choreography by Thoko Sidiya, with set design and lighting by Wilhelm Disbergen.


Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

"Five: 20 - Operas made in South Africa". University of Cape Town.

'Gauteng Opera'. National Arts Council website.

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