Dear Friends of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival,
I am recalling one of the charmingly comic scenes in Mozart’s Magic Flute when Tamino and Papageno set out on their quest to free Pamina from Sarastro’s clutches. Papageno: “I’m thinking I’m coming down with a touch of fever.” – Tamino: “Shame on you, Papageno! Be a man!” – Papageno: “I wish I were a girl! Oh! Oh! Oh! My last hour has struck!”.
In Mozart’s singspiel, first performed in 1791, Papageno is the funny and lazy counterpart of the noble prince Tamino. The braver is Tamino, the more fearful Papageno becomes, the more austere is the one, the more the other enjoys his food, being driven by a light-hearted joie de vivre. One can easily find in this character many traits of Hanswurst, the comic figure of the early 18th-century Viennese comedy, as well as of Harlequin in the traditional Italian Commedia dell’arte. At the heart of Papageno’s character features lies the portrayal of a wild man figure as the 18th-century symbol of man in the state of nature. Mozart’s take on notions of Enlightenment includes an interplay with male/female gender identities. A complicated discussion for today’s contributors to this debate, but at least in the opera Papageno finally meets the long desired Papagena!
This year’s edition of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival pays tribute to the Papageno and Papagena theme, exploring the relationship between male and female identities in music as well as the idea of opposites and contrasts in a wider sense. We are delighted to present a rich variety of composers and styles with a special focus on women composers such as Rebecca Clarke, Graciane Finzi, Sofia Gubaidulina, Betsy Jolas, Alma Mahler, Fanny Mendelssohn, Priaulx Rainier and Clara Schumann. Not only one, but two Composers-in-Residence, Matthijs van Dijk and Lungiswa Plaatjies, have come on board for JIMF 2018.
The diversity of the programme reflects once again that the Festival places great emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches, providing innovative intersections between “classical” repertoires, new music, improvisation, film, dance, theatre and contemporary South African art. The JIMF’s educational initiatives, too, are going from strength to strength. Our current vocal scholars at the Musikhochschule in Cologne/Germany have recently enjoyed international competition successes and concert engagements. The 2018 Festival will, of course, see another edition of the annual vocal masterclass, along with several other composition and performance workshops.
Between 26 January and 4 February, all our artists and ensembles will JoIn forces in what promises to be a very exciting Festival edition.
May I wish you inspiring concerts and encounters!