Macbeth: My first opera experience

In January I wrote a blog post about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. One of my resolutions was to go to the theater once in a while, because it’s something that I’m not really familiar with. Well, since the beginning of 2016, I tried two different pieces. The first one was a play called ‘Robin Hassan Hood‘, a story about the fact that people who live in the suburbs all over the world are facing the same struggle. It’s like living in a jungle where you have to find a way to survive. I did like the play, but it didn’t move me in any way. But then this weekend I saw Macbeth in the KVS, an opera directed by Brett Baily. Wow! After seeing it I wasn’t able to talk because I was fighting back tears. I will show you a short video at the end so you can have an idea of what to expect.

7 Owen Metsileng as Macbeth - photo by Nicky Newman(photos by Nicky Newman, source: KVS website)

The story

Macbeth is not a typical opera. It’s based on Shakespeare’s play (and Verdi’s opera), but the story is completely modified and made more accessible to the public. The actors are from South-Africa and they tell the story of Europe’s colonial past. It’s not a linear story with a beginning and end, in stead they show us fragments of the conflictual situation in the Congo. We see how the region of North-Kivu is the battlefield between different groups of rebels who want to seize power. One of these rebel leaders is Colonel Macbeth. The actors show how our colonial history still has it’s consequences today. The country is being robbed every day by Western companies for minerals and raw materials. These companies use different techniques to achieve their goals: violence, corruption, supporting the rebels who rape women and so on.

My experience

It’s not like I learned something that I didn’t know before, since I was well aware of the situation in Kivu. It’s the way that this reality was presented that moved me so much. I never went to the opera before, but I knew after 2 minutes that I would enjoy the rest of the show. Hearing the strong voices guided by a live orchestra made me feel I was about to experience something special. Some parts where a bit exaggerated and funny, but never in a ridiculous way. The scene where the villagers are mourning their deceased children was heartbreaking. I was on the second row so I saw their facial expression in detail. I managed to hold myself together, but at the end when everyone was applauding I saw other people cry, so that’s when it became difficult 🙂 .


What you probably don’t know, is that a part of my family was born in North-Kivu. Because of the conflicts most of them live in Europe now. We hope to visit the region in the future and discover the magnificent forests and the lake of Kivu. Maybe that’s why this opera moved me so much and why I felt the need to share this experience with you.

I know this opera was very different than a classical one, but I see is at a successful first step for me to discover the world of opera. Enjoy the video!

(source: Tuiteros Cultura Youtube channel)

Macbeth was only programmed for 3 days in KVS, so you can’t buy tickets anymore. They play all over the world, so there might be a chance that they come back to Belgium.

Directed by Brett Bailey, music by Fabrizio Cassol (conductor Premil Petrovic)performers: Owen Metsileng, Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Otto Maidi, Sandile Kamle, Jacqueline Manciya, Monde Masimini, Bulelani Madondile, Philisa Sibeko, Thomakazi Holland & No Borders Orchestra
Production: Third World Bunfight (Cape Town).



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