Two excellent musical performances a treat

Ian von Memerty: Keyboard Killer.

Oh what a fab night we had at the Opera House on Saturday. A show with four heroes, 12 heroines, and 16 wonderfully performed arias – and over without waiting for a really fat lady to sing with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CTPO).
There was one elegantly rounded Italian soprano Selene Zanetti who “Sang to the Moon” in Czech and won 500 Euros as the International Media Jury’s favourite, and local soprano Noluvuyiso Mpofu, whose glittering bouffant turquoise dress took up one and a half seats.
She earned 3 500 Euros as runner-up in the world’s best networked singing competition and 2 000 Euros as the audience favourite.
The first prize of 7 000 Euros went to the American bass baritone Nicholas Brownlee.
If his path follows last year’s winner, the sensational Kroonstad tenor Levy Sekgapanne and soprano Pretty Yende in 2009, his career will shoot to the stars.
The Opera Jury were all casting directors of international opera houses with contracts to offer.
It was a coup for South Africa that for the first time in 35 years the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition was held outside Europe.
If we were to believe the compliments showered on the city and citizens for its friendliness and efficiency, Cape Town was a winner.
The qualifying rounds were held in 70 cities in Europe as well as Peru, Bulgaria, Armenia, Korea South and Georgia. Of the 120 semi-finalists, 89 came to Cape Town to compete at the Baxter Concert Hall where the jury selected the 16 finalists.
Four proudly South African competitors were Pretoria’s Caroline Nkwe and from Cape Town Opera, Noluvuyiso Mpofu and husband and wife Lukhanyo Moyake and Siphamandla Yakupa.
The splendid evening, directed by Christine Crouse and hosted by Africa Melane in his inimitable relaxed and humorous style, produced the odd surprise. Conductor Kamal Khan whose head is usually the only part we see sticking out of orchestra pits, also revealed arms that waved, a body that moved expressly and a suit of very smart tails.
He was in his element and must take credit for helping the finalists up their game from performing on a small white square on the floor next to the pianist at the Baxter to coping with a full house, a huge stage and the full blooded CTPO at Artscape.

Master of the
keyboard
Ian von Memerty’s agility and versatility on the piano are enough proof that he is a Keyboard Killer but he is unlikely to agree. According to his latest show Keyboard Killers which opened at the Theatre on the Bay last week, that title belongs to the eight extraordinarily talented musicians he highlighted who wrote a good melody, created wonderful lyrics and played the piano brilliantly.
“The list of people who did all these things is very short but tremendously inspiring,” he told us.
“And there’s no common denominator: five were white, three black, one Parsi, two Jewish, two atheist, two Christian, five straight and three gay. They were poor, rich and middle class. Some had early success.
“Others achieved it relatively late. But once they started, they were un-
stoppable.”
Who were these Eight Greats to whom Ian devoted a medley of their songs and life stories delivered with enormous energy, panache and dollops of humour? Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Irving Berlin, Freddy Mercury, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Fats Waller and John Legend.
This is an eight-man show staged by one astonishingly talented 51-year-old in a red velvet suit with support from PE bass player Andrew Warneker and Cape Town’s Bronwen Clacherty on drums.
After 30 years in show business, Ian knows what appeals to his audience.
He ensured his Great Eight stirred up memories of famous songs and personalities for everyone, creating an entertainment which the woman next to me enjoyed so much she vowed to see again.

Monty the cat
Monty the cat, which bit Simon Russell three weeks ago, is still alive but now has only one of his nine lives left.
So jokes his owner who, after 10 days in Constantiaberg and four operations (just think of the cost) is finally making progress. The bacteria in his wrist is under control although his hand is still very stiff and slightly swollen.
“I must admit my situation generally creates great amusement but it has been much more serious than I could ever have imagined.
“The surgeon told me that early in his career in Australia he experienced three cat bites in one day and his tutor surgeon warned him never to let the sun go down on a cat bite.
The high level of bacteria is only exceeded by a human bite.”
So watch out when helping your cat extricate his paw from the cat flap and stand clear of your spouses when they bare their teeth at you.

I spy with my little eye…
What’s the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist? Apart from the difficulty of spelling the former (that extra “h” often catches people out) it’s the level of training and what they can diagnose and treat.
I’ve been corrected by a reader that an optometrist is situated in Meadowridge’s Park ‘n Shop centre not an ophthalmologist but she did agree that the ladies there were exceptionally helpful.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who is licenced to practise medicine and surgery and while he can prescribe glasses and lenses, his prime focus is treating eye diseases.
An optometrist is a primary health service provider who is involved in vision problems but has not attended medical school.
Junk away
Why do people leave their valuable cars in the driveway and all their junk in the garage?
fionachisholm@iafrica