Nelson Mandela opera set for Wales Millennium Centre

Image caption,
Cape Town Opera brought Porgy and Bess to Cardiff to mark the WMC's fifth birthday

The Wales Millennium Centre has struck a three-year partnership with South Africa's largest performing arts organisation.

Cape Town Opera made its UK debut with a performance of Porgy and Bess in 2009 to mark the Cardiff venue's fifth birthday.

The agreement paves the way for the first UK performance of an opera based on the life of Nelson Mandela.

It will also include an education project with schools in south Wales.

Mandela Trilogy is a new version of an original opera developed and devised by Cape Town Opera for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Composed by Allan Stephenson, Mike Campbell and Peter Louis van Dijk, its UK debut performance will be at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) in June 2012.

An education project involving an artist from Cape Town and one from Wales forms part of the community work that will stem from the partnership.

The artists will work with schools and community groups in south Wales exploring the theme of belonging and how cultural differences can enrich communities.

Image caption,
A opera based on the life of Nelson Mandela will be performed in Cardiff

The project will also involve Welsh National Opera and culminates in a performance at the WMC to mark Black History Month in October.

There are also plans for staff exchanges between the WMC and Cape Town Opera to share best practice and develop working relationships.

The Cape Town connection stems from the WMC's founding patron South African businessman Sir Donald Gordon and his charitable foundation.

WMC chief executive Mark Taylor said: "This is a significant milestone in the history of Wales Millennium Centre and in the development of cultural links between Wales and South Africa.

"This partnership is the fruition of ambition, resolve and artistic achievement from colleagues at the Centre and at Cape Town Opera and I'm confident that the new relationship will provide cultural opportunities for both organisations and our audiences."

Michael Williams, managing director of Cape Town Opera, also welcomed the three year agreement, which he hoped would enable both organisations to "grow substantially" as a result.

"Cape Town Opera is fully committed to ensuring that this partnership is successful, rewarding and exciting and will benefit both organisations and their audiences," said Mr Williams.

This is the WMC's third strategic partnership, following those with Galeri in Caernarfon and Russia's Mariinsky Opera, formerly known as the Kirov.

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