Difference between revisions of "Opera House"

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(Opera House, Port Elizabeth)
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=Opera Houses in South Africa=
  
  
  
 
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== The [[Opera House]], Cape Town (1893 – 1937)==
= The [[Opera House]], Cape Town (1893 – 1937)=
 
  
 
The [[Opera House, Cape Town]] was at the time considered the finest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere. Also called the '''[[Cape Town Opera House]]''', it was designed by G. M. Alexander, F.R.I.B.A., and built on the site of the present day main Post Office by W. Kitch for £40 000. The secretary for the Grand Parade Building Co. was E. R. Syfret, St George's Street.
 
The [[Opera House, Cape Town]] was at the time considered the finest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere. Also called the '''[[Cape Town Opera House]]''', it was designed by G. M. Alexander, F.R.I.B.A., and built on the site of the present day main Post Office by W. Kitch for £40 000. The secretary for the Grand Parade Building Co. was E. R. Syfret, St George's Street.
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most of the members of Parliament, by the then Mayor of Cape Town (J. Woodhead), with a performance of ''[[Dorothy]]'', a musical by Stephenson and Cellier performed by the [[Lyric Company]].   
 
most of the members of Parliament, by the then Mayor of Cape Town (J. Woodhead), with a performance of ''[[Dorothy]]'', a musical by Stephenson and Cellier performed by the [[Lyric Company]].   
  
== The various venues ==
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=== The venue ===
 
 
The building had its entrance on Grave Street, and consisted of the Theatre and a Restaurant.
 
 
 
===The Theatre===
 
 
 
Equipped with 1000 seats, it had a fireproof corridor and was lit by gas, which was later replaced by electricity. The pit was of the latest design, stalls were well padded and covered with red leather, the dress circle and boxes were elaborate with chaste designs and there was a "gods" with bench seating. 
 
  
===The Grand Theatre Restaurant===
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The building had its entrance on Grave Street, and consisted of  the Grand Theatre Restaurant and The Theatre as a performance venue.
  
It also housed a restaurant, The '''Grand Theatre Restaurant'''.   
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The Theatre was quipped with 1000 seats and had a fireproof corridor and was lit by gas, which was later replaced by electricity. The pit was of the latest design, stalls were well padded and covered with red leather, the dress circle and boxes were elaborate with chaste designs and there was a "gods" with bench seating.   
  
== Lessees and Performances ==
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=== Lessees and Performances ===
  
 
In 1896 Frank de Jong was the lessee of the [[Opera House]], and his “[[Gaiety]]” companies performed here, as well as various well-known international performers, including [[Zena Dare]], [[Matheson Lang]] and [[Sybil Thorndike]]. [[Mark Twain]] also gave three performances of his ''[[At Home]]'' there in July 1896.  
 
In 1896 Frank de Jong was the lessee of the [[Opera House]], and his “[[Gaiety]]” companies performed here, as well as various well-known international performers, including [[Zena Dare]], [[Matheson Lang]] and [[Sybil Thorndike]]. [[Mark Twain]] also gave three performances of his ''[[At Home]]'' there in July 1896.  

Revision as of 06:30, 30 May 2019

Opera House as concept

Opera Houses in South Africa

The Opera House, Cape Town (1893 – 1937)

The Opera House, Cape Town was at the time considered the finest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere. Also called the Cape Town Opera House, it was designed by G. M. Alexander, F.R.I.B.A., and built on the site of the present day main Post Office by W. Kitch for £40 000. The secretary for the Grand Parade Building Co. was E. R. Syfret, St George's Street.

It was opened on 31st August, 1893, in the presence of His Excellency the Governor General and most of the members of Parliament, by the then Mayor of Cape Town (J. Woodhead), with a performance of Dorothy, a musical by Stephenson and Cellier performed by the Lyric Company.

The venue

The building had its entrance on Grave Street, and consisted of the Grand Theatre Restaurant and The Theatre as a performance venue.

The Theatre was quipped with 1000 seats and had a fireproof corridor and was lit by gas, which was later replaced by electricity. The pit was of the latest design, stalls were well padded and covered with red leather, the dress circle and boxes were elaborate with chaste designs and there was a "gods" with bench seating.

Lessees and Performances

In 1896 Frank de Jong was the lessee of the Opera House, and his “Gaiety” companies performed here, as well as various well-known international performers, including Zena Dare, Matheson Lang and Sybil Thorndike. Mark Twain also gave three performances of his At Home there in July 1896.

In June 1909 Leonard Rayne became the lessee.

Local impressarios and producers such as Stephen Black, Leonard Rayne and Harry Stodel performed there as well, and Harry Stodel hosted many overseas stars, including Anna Pavlova and Harry Launder in his period as lessee.

In 1904 the theatre saw the first performance of An African Millionaire by Edgar Wallace, written when he was editor of the Rand Daily Mail, and based on the life of Rhodes. It was a dismal failure and closed after 6 days.


(JF & MN)

Sources

Jill Fletcher, 1994)

Opera House Johannesburg

[Was there one??**]

Opera House, Port Elizabeth

Also known as the Port Elizabeth Opera House, the P.E. Opera House, the Opera House Port Elizabeth and today as The Opera House Nelson Mandela Bay, it claims to be the oldest theatre still in use on the continent of Africa and in the Southern Hemisphere.

For more on this venue and its history, go to Port Elizabeth Opera House

Opera House Pretoria

Conceptualised in 1902, but finally opened on 27 February 1904. Designed by the company McIntosh and Moffat for the entrepreneurs Ben and Frank Wheeler. Described by McIntosh as follows on 18 February, 1904: "The main front will be on Pretorius Street, of classic architecture in the rennaissance style, showing an elevation of three storeys. At either side of the entrance there will be two shops, one intended as a first class buffet. A long corridor with a marble tiled floor willlead from this entrance into the foyer, above 35 feet square, from whence by mounting a few steps directly in front of the entrance corridor access will be had to the stalls. On either side of the foyer there is a marble staircase leading to the dress circle. The total seating capacity is 1016." On the stage he said: "The proscenium opening is large, leading on to a stage 57 feet by 38 feet, with ample dressing room accomodation… the orchestry will be a sunken one." It was meant for opera, but was only used for such for the first two years. Taken over by McKay Bros, the music firm, in 1907, it was mostly used for gramaphone concerts and operettas. It was also long a favourite venue for shows and meetings in Pretoria. Besides the many English and Afrikaans productions done there. These included the first productions of plays such as [An African Millionaire by Edgar Wallace, by Leonard Rayne Pretoria/Cape Town (??*) in 1904.], Ou Daniel by Harm Oost by the Afrikaans-Hollandse Toneelvereniging on 9 March, 1906, Piet s'n Tante (Brandon Thomas, tr by Gustav Preller) in April, on 1908, Afrikaner Harte ("Afrikaner Hearts") by M.M. Jansen by students of the Transvaal University College in 1918, under the direction of Stephanus Maré?*, Die Heks (C.L. Leipoldt) by Stephanie Faure and Paul de Groot on 2 May 1925, Huis Toe (Heimat by Süderman) by Paul de Groot in 1925, Ampie by Jochem van Bruggen, starring André Huguenet directed by Stephanie Faure on 18 April 1930, ** Spoke (“Ghosts”) by Ibsen (1947), Romeo and Juliet (Johannesburg Reps, 1949). A watershed production there was the Afrikaans version of Hamlet, produced by André Huguenet and African Consolidated Theatres, directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl and Siegfried Mynhardt on ** 1947. Others include Spoke by Ibsen (1947), Romeo and Juliet (Johannesburg Reps, 1949). Other notable events taking place there include the Kruger-day (10 October) political meeting in 1914 which set off the the armed resistance to participation in the war (the so-called Rebellie - "Rebellion"). Like many such theatres it was later managed by African Theatres and used as a part time bioscope (cinema house). For example, over the years the film Di Voortrekkers was regularly shown there on December 16th (Day of the Covenant). In 19** it was converted into a full time bioscope?*, and in 197* the interior was stripped to make way for a mall, though - in response to a public outcry - the façade was retained and still stands in Pretorius Street. Pretoria Opera House: Romeo and Juliet was performed here and in the Wits University Great Hall in 1949. It was produced by the Reps to commemorate twenty one years of existance. It was directed by André van Gyseghem, and starred Leon Gluckman, Eugenie Heyns, Muriel Alexander and Herbert Kretzmer. Sets by Len Grosset and costumes by Louis Jacobson impressed. Leonard Schach’s Cockpit Players embarked on a lengthy Johannesburg run of four of their recent Cape Town successes in 1959. The second was Basil Warner’s Try for White, which opened at the Pretoria Opera House before moving to the Intimate Theatre for the remainder of their highly successful run. It starred Marjorie Gordon, Nigel Hawthorne, Zoe Randall, Michael Turner. Joyce Grant and Fiona Fraser replaced Minna Millsten and Heather Lloyd-Jones respectively, from the Cape Town cast. ****


Sources

(Binge, 1969, Vermeulen, 1971, Tucker, 1997) [TH, ABr]

See also

The Opera, names for specific and dedicated performance spaces within existing state-funded theatres


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