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Our sponsors supporting the launch events in Maputo & Pretoria

The sponsoring

We are seeking sponsors and institutional partners willing to endorse and financially support this visionary project. We are developing the project in two phases: Phase one leads to the finished opera scores (lyrics & music); phase two covers the staging of the oeuvre.

Already phase one, commissioning (composing) the oeuvre, offers great sponsoring value: The name of the commissioning partner(s) will remain linked to the opera: mentioned in the scores and in all later press releases for TERRA SONÂMBULA productions and the right to use TERRA SONÂMBULA in their institutional communication. In the perspective of phase two, commissioning partner(s) will have priority to become presenting partner(s) for staging the first production, offering a unique hospitality platform with further visibility.

Impact and sustainability

The opera project will contribute to the development of Music & Arts in Africa in multiple ways:

Cultural legacy: We aspire to develop a high-quality artistic oeuvre in the form of a lasting contribution to the still modest African opera repertoire, inspiring future musical innovations in Africa.

Educational impact: The project will leave all participants with enhanced skills as well as a solid professional experience, both forming part of their professional curriculum. Due to the fact that opera is such a complete art form, coaching and workshops will be made available in various fields for members of the choirs, soloists and instrumentalists - but also for dancers, stage designers and technicians. Our project MUSIARTE educates young talents who wish to participate in our professional choir. We additionally seek collaborations with international opera houses and festivals, also promoting the educational exchange and collaboration between North and South.

Social impact: This opera telling the horrible suffering of war and the need to strive for peace is a powerful tool for finding common ground and building social cohesion. Enjoying a piece of art creates mutual affection for things that unite us. We also believe in a long-lasting impact in terms of prevention of xenophobia and racism in Africa.

Economic impact: The opera will create direct employment during the entire project. The hospitality platforms during the staging are creating an additional economic impact while promoting local art and tourism. The oeuvre will travel in Africa and worldwide. Co-operations with opera houses and festivals will develop African Music and Art business creating further jobs and training, enhancing expertise in this very specific field.

Concept and form of the opera

Opera is about telling a story while singing, acting, dancing and playing musical instruments. It is considered the most complete artistic form. We plan a non-conventional chamber opera blending African colours with a classical orchestration – hence bridging the cultural worlds of North and South. A chamber opera offers the best possible flexibility in terms of staging and financing the production – and yet retains the potential for musical innovations and an unconventional orchestration. We want to encourage the team of composers to introduce and combine African instruments with classic music instruments without falling into musical exoticism or a folkloristic quaintness!

Our brainstorming with Henning Mankell regarding the composing task, led to the following formula: We are looking for a combination of an “African Verdi” in terms of mastering choirs and an “African Bernstein” in terms of composing attractive melodies influenced by African rhythms.

Mia Couto: “I wrote the novel TERRA SONÂMBULA during a time of war in my country. This war not only killed a million people, it also killed our hope. We were imprisoned by violence. Even more, we were also imprisoned by distance and by solitude…

Almost two decades after the end of this war, the news that TERRA SONÂMBULA will be able to travel further in form of other artistic languages, is a sort of vengeance against siege and isolation dictated by the absurdity of war. To know that literature can travel to registers apparently as different as an opera amplifies my gratitude even more. To know that this initiative will be able to join voices and talents of different continents, therefore, leads to the universality that all work of art intends to reach.”     

More information about Mia Couto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mia_Couto

Henning explains his interest in the project as follows: "What was intriguing me so much about writing a libretto based on Mia Couto’s novel TERRA SONÂMBULA is its richness. The story is a magical journey between tragedy and comedy. It has all the qualities that - hopefully - will make it a modern classic.” In his speech at the launch of the project in March 2011 in Pretoria, he underlined: “We (the project team) are explorers, we would like to do something which was never done in Africa before… We are not searching for a European imagination of an African opera, but want to do something authentic – and I think, we will come up with something very exciting”.

More information about Henning Mankell: www.henningmankell.com

Stella on the opera project: „Africa is a fascinating singing continent, home of millions of art lovers and talents! Singing, dancing, acting and telling stories are very prominent features of Africa’s culture – making the art form of opera and Africa a perfect match! And yet, culture remains an untapped richness. There are so many captivating African stories perfectly suited for the operatic form; bridging North and South and strengthening cultural exchanges and thus deepening mutual understanding.

We certainly have the ambition to showcase Africa’s capacity, culturally as well as economically, not only to create a short-term economic impact but followed by further cultural projects.”

More information about Stella Mendonça: www.stellamendonca.com

The initiators

Principal Patron

Dr. Graça Machel

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, member of The Elders, former Minister of Education Mozambique


Oldemiro Baloi -  Minister of Foreign Affairs Mozambique

Armando Artur João  -  Minister of Culture Mozambique

Dr. Pascoal Mocumbi -  former Prime Minister of Mozambique

Christian Meuwly  -  Swiss Ambassador to South Africa

Peter Tejler  -  Swedish Ambassador to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia

Therese Adam  -  Swiss Ambassador to Mozambique

George Johannes  -  South African Ambassador to Switzerland

Rudolf Bärfuss  -  former Swiss Ambassador to South Africa, Brazil, Mozambique and Angola

José Eduardo Agualusa  -  Angolan writer and journalist

Gilberto Gil  -  Musician, former Minister of Culture Brazil

Sibongile Khumalo  -  South African singer & entertainer

Maria João Pires  -  Pianist & pedagogue

The project

TERRA SONÂMBULA is the ambitious and visionary initiative to develop a truly African opera. Its powerful message is peace.

The project stands on four solid pillars: it starts with the beautiful and magic novel TERRA SONÂMBULA, written by the internationally acclaimed Mozambican author Mia Couto. Carry the substance of Mia’s novel closer to the form of an opera was a difficult task. The renowned Swedish author and dramatist Henning Mankell, longstanding friend of Africa and Mozambique, agreed to take up this challenge. So he wrote the libretto, the first in his large oeuvre, proving that it is indeed possible to do an exciting opera libretto out of Mia’s novel.

The third pillar of TERRA SONÂMBULA is Stella Mendonça, Mozambican/Swiss soprano and arts producer, who staged the first opera in the history of Mozambique some years ago (Carmen by Bizet). The fourth pillar is a top team of African composers whose names will be announced shortly. All these personalities represent Africa and are bridge-builders between North and South.

Singing, dancing, acting and telling stories are very prominent features of Africa’s culture -making opera and Africa a perfect match! These performing arts can also serve as effective tools for education, development and self-promotion. TERRA SONÂMBULA not only shows the absurdity of war and the need to strive for peace, contributes to find common ground, to build social cohesion and national unity.

The project will involve the younger generation, developing artistic, technical and managerial skills, to create jobs and leave a legacy beyond this project.