International opera and theatre screened at Cinema Nouveau, Rosebank

HD Screenings at Cinema Nouveau, Ster-Kinekor, Rosebank Mall

programme-operasJozi’ites are privileged indeed to have access to the HD opera series brought live from the New York Met and the live HD National Theatre productions from London.  These much anticipated movies are screened at Sterkinekor’s Cinema Nouveau  in the Rosebank Mall, a mere 3 km from Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse. Unfortunately since Ster Kinekor revamped its website it has not included the advance programmes – a serious omission indeed. So here is Liz at Lancaster’s programme summary for those who look out for these long-awaited productions.




National Theatre (London) productions 

no-mans-land-from-21-januaryamadeus-wbThere are 4 amazing upcoming screenings coming from the National Theatre productions starting on 21st January with the wonderful revival of Harold Pinter’s comic classic No Man’s Land with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.  Peter Shafer’s iconic play Amadeus premiered at the National  Theatre in 1979 winning multiple Olivier and Tony awards. It was later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.   In this new version which opens at Cinema Nouveau on 4th March, Salieri is played by Lucian Msamati (best known for his role as Salladhor Saan in Game of Thrones.) There is live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia.

hedda-from-1-apriljoan-of-arcBilled as an ‘electrifying masterpiece’ Gemma Arterton plays the title role in Josie Rourke’s production of Bernard Shaw’s classic play Saint Joan. It opens at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank on 18th March. And finally opening on 1st April is Ian van Hove’s modern production of Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler. Ruth Wilson (of Luther and The Affair fame) plays the title role and Rafe Spall (Black Mirror and The Big Short) plays Brack.



Live HD screenings of the NY Met 2016-2017 opera season 

Susanna Phillips as Clémence in L'Amour de Loin. Source: Kristian Schuller

Susanna Phillips as Clémence in L’Amour de Loin. Source: Kristian Schuller

Placido Domingo adds to his repertoire. Source: Marty Sohl

Placido Domingo adds to his repertoire. Source: Marty Sohl

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s 2000 L’Amour de Loin premiered at the NY Met and comes to Cinema Nouveau Rosebank on 7th January. This meditation on idealized love set in the medieval era, stars Susanna Phillips as Clémence, Eric Owens as Jaufré, and Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim who carries messages of love between them.

Opening on 4th Feb is Nabucco with Plácido Domingo (this adds a new role to his repertory)  Liudmyla Monastyrska sings Nabucco’s daughter Abigaille, with Jamie Barton as Fenena, Russell Thomas as Ismaele, and Dmitry Belosselskiy  as the prophet  Zaccaria.  This is the first time Nabucco has been released in HD.

Diana Damrau as Juliette in Gounod's opera

Diana Damrau as Juliette in Gounod’s opera

A week later on 11th February, Roméo et Juliette begins its brief run. Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau reunite for this new production by Bartlett Sher of Gounod’s opera based on the Shakespeare play. Elliot Madore sings Mercutio and Mikhail Petrenko sings Frère Laurent. Sher’s staging is a La Scala production, initially presented by the Salzburg Festival, where it premiered in 2008.

Kristine Opolais as the water nymph in Dvořák’s Rusalka

Kristine Opolais as the water nymph in Dvořák’s Rusalka

Dvořák’s  Rusalka (opening 25th March), conducted by Sir Mark Elder and directed by Mary Zimmerman, will star Kristine Opolais in the title role of a water nymph who falls in love with a human prince, sung by Brandon Jovanovich.  Other singers are Katarina Dalayman as her rival, the Foreign Princess; Eric Owens as the Water Sprite, Rusalka’s father; and Jamie Barton as the duplicitous witch Ježibaba.


How luscious does this production of La Traviata look?

How luscious does this production of La Traviata look?

Willy Decker’s staging of  Verdi’s La Traviata  opens on 8 AprilSonya Yoncheva plays the doomed courtesan Violetta Valéry opposite American tenor Michael Fabiano as her lover, Alfredo. Thomas Hampson sings one of his most acclaimed Met roles as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s disapproving father, in a revival of conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti.

Another first for HD is Mozart’s Idomeneo set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s classic production stars Matthew Polenzani in the title role. The cast also includes our own Johannesburg-born Elza van den Heever as Elettra, Nadine Sierra as Ilia, Alice Coote as Idamante and Alan Opie as Arbace. This starts on 29th April.

Netrebko as Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s 'Eugene Onegin'

Netrebko as Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.  Source: Ken Howard

Netrebko again plays the role of the heroine Tatiana in Deborah Warner’s staging  of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, this time with fellow Russian superstar Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin.   Alexey Dolgov sings the role of Onegin’s friend-turned-rival, Lenski, with Elena Maximova as Tatiana’s sister Olga and Štefan Kocán as Prince Gremin. Starts 20 May.



Two extraordinary leads: Renée Fleming and Elīna Garanča in Der Rosenkavalier from 10 Jun

Two extraordinary leads: Renée Fleming and Elīna Garanča in Der Rosenkavalier from 10 Jun. Source:

The Met’s first new production since 1969 of Strauss’s  Der Rosenkavalier  is conducted by Sebastian Weigle and directed by Robert Carsen. The amazing Renée Fleming sings one of her signature roles as the Marschallin, opposite Elīna Garanča as Octavian, the impulsive young title character. The cast also includes Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs, Erin Morley as Sophie, Marcus Brück in his Met debut as Faninal and Matthew Polenzani as the Italian Singer.

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Catch the Red City Bus from Rosebank


Even seasoned travellers who don’t like to be seen as mass-tourists, will take a guided bus tour when they first arrive in a big city. It’s an ideal way to get an overview – literally – from the top of a double decker (or diggle-dupper as my son used to call it!) as well as  having an explanatory commentary to the main sights and history of the city.  Joburg’s Hop-on Hop-Off bus tours have been going since January 2013 and have changed many visitors’ perceptions of the city. And now more exciting news!


The Red City Bus has come to Rosebank – a mere 3 km from Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse! red-city-bus-4This is yet another recognition for Rosebank and the Parks and what this area has to offer in terms of tourist attractions.  The Red City Bus has added a Green route to its Red route.   The ticket office is now at the Zone in Rosebank very close to the Rosebank Gautrain Station.   The green tour leaves every 30 mintues starting at 9 am until 15.10 and goes to the Zoo Lake, the Zoo, the Military Museum and Constitution Hill.


At Con Hill you can transfer to the Red Route which follows a slightly different route from previously, with stops at the Mining District, Carlton Centre, the Apartheid Museum,  SAB  World of Beer, Newtown Junction, Origins Centre, Braamfontien and back to where you started at Con Hill.  On the Red Bus there is a good commentary available in 16 languages.   There is even a fun kids’ commentary channel.


From the Apartheid Museum, you can join a 2 hour Soweto extension tour on a small shuttle bus.  These buses depart every 60 minutes starting from 11.15 until 15.15.


There are free hotel shuttles to the Ticket Office at the Rosebank Zone from several Sandton hotels: the Maslow; the Hilton, Protea Balalaika, Sandton Convention Centre, Radisson Blu, Melrose Arch and Protea Fire and Ice .




You can buy pre-paid discounted tickets on-line ( or full price with debit/credit card on the bus. And there are various different packages you can purchase. Often guests at Liz at Lancaster take the 2 day pass so that they have time to spend at Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum as well as doing the 2 hour tour of Soweto. There are even walking tours plus a bike tour of Soweto can also be arranged. So lots of options … all starting in Rosebank!

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‘Visit Work Play’ Joburg Tourism’s message


Joburg  ‘Visit Work Play’ – this message greeted us as we entered the Women’s Jail at Con Hill  a couple of weeks back to attend a presentation by Joburg Tourism on their new plans to market Joburg as a destination.  Jozi has traditionally received bad press internationally because of perceptions of crime and grime and, despite being the  foremost business hub of the region, many see Jozi as a one-night airport stop on the way to Kruger or the Cape.   However, the fact that the city has  been named for the 4th year in a row as Africa’s most visited city in the 2016 Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index, shows what a vibrant, energetic and desirable city it is to visit.  But we don’t want people to simply overnight on their way to Kruger Park or the Cape, or plan a 2 day cross border shopping spree … we johannesburg-iyp-routeswant people to stay and play.  And this is where Joburg Tourism comes in along with their collaborator Laurice Taitz of Johannesburg In Your Pocket fame.  Joburg Tourism invited trade and travel stakeholders from around the country and the rest of Africa, to a 3 day experience of Joburg comprised of shopping, art and neighbourhood excursions.   And simultaneously they launched the Johannesburg In Your Pocket Experience Guide to these three aspects of the city.


So while Soweto, Vilakazi Street and the Apartheid Museum have become signifiers of the struggle years and the rise of democracy for foreign tourists particularly, few know of the neighbourhoods of Alexandra,  Fordsburg or Fietas.   In addition to exploring these neighbourhoods,  Johannesburg In Your Pocket’s special edition, as always a  little jewel of a publication, takes visitors through a range of shopping experience from high-end luxury to best bargains; from high street shopping to bespoke clothing;  from markets and the handmade to designer brands.


And finally the third experience (my particular passion), gives an extensive guide to Joburg as a creative and energetic artistic hub.   During the Apartheid years with the cultural boycott, the Market Theatre kept struggle politics alive in the cultural arena but it was a tough time for visual artists and musicians. Post 1994 it seems that South Africa and Joburg has been making up for the years of isolation.  Jozi particularly has made a grand entrance onto the international stage.  Recognized by the Wall Street Journal in 2014 as one of the four emerging art cities ‘you should know’ (, Joburg was also chosen as one of the 12 cities to be featured in Phaidon’s  2013 Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes.   (


Circa Art Gallery, Keyes Art Mile Source Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Circa Art Gallery, Keyes Art Mile
Source Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Walter Battiss Exhibition Wits Art Museum 2016 Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Walter Battiss Exhibition Wits Art Museum 2016
Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Not only are there various creative hubs with art galleries and studio spaces at spots like the newly opened Keyes Art Mile; the Rosebank Art Mile in Parkwood (they still don’t seem to be quite sure of their branding);  Braamfontein;  Maboneng and New Doornfontein, but there are also some excellent curated exhibition spaces like the Standard Bank Gallery, Wits Art Museum and ABSA Gallery.  There is seldom a mid-week night or a Saturday morning when there isn’t either an opening, a curator’s walkabout or an artist’s talk.  And on the first Thursday of every month these galleries stay open for afficonados and just plain jollers to gather, browse, shoot the breeze and have a drink and something to eat at one of the street stalls, restaurants or pavement cafés.  Guests arrived at Liz at Lancaster after a long plane journey (a couple of flights) from Canada and the evening they arrived went to #FirstThursday at the Keyes Art Mile.  They were completely bowled over .. Well Done Jozi – you did us proud!


Turbine Art Fair, Turbine Hall July 2016 Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Turbine Art Fair, Turbine Hall July 2016
Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

And of course relatively new on the scene are the amazing art fairs: the Joburg Art Fair held in September at the Sandton Convention Centre – every gallery and creative outlet in South Africa and many from the continent are represented ; and the Turbine Art Fair in July where all works for sale come in at under R40,000 and most for way less.

Nirox Winter Sculpture Fair 2016 Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Nirox Winter Sculpture Fair 2016
Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

For 3 months from May to July the Nirox Winter Sculpture Fair is held out in that sublime park in the Cradle of Humankind – where cultural production and cultured nature work so exquisitely together.


However, it’s not only gallery art that Joburg has become famous for but there is also lots of public art – both works officially commissioned by the city as well as below-the-radar street art and graffiti.   Post 1994 art was seen as a way of meeting development needs and much of this was overseen by the Johannesburg Development Agency.   Despite having worked very peripherally with the JDA on various tender processes in the mid 1990s, I did not realize that a public art levy was imposed that would devote up to 1% of the construction budget on major city projects for this purpose (Johannesburg in Your Pocket Experiences Guide Special Edition p 32).

Clive Van Den Berg Eland Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Clive Van Den Berg Eland Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

The wonderful series of wooden heads on all the bollards in Newtown bear testament to this initiative while another of  the major works to be commissioned was Clive Van Den Berg’s monumental Eland at the entrance to Braamfontein.

Walter & Albertine Sisulu by Marina Walsh Source Liz at Lancaster

Walter & Albertine Sisulu by Marina Walsh
Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Two other favourites of mine are the Sisulu sculpture near Diagonal St commissioned by the City of Johannesburg as well as Marco Cianfanelli’s Shadow Boxer outside the Magistrates’s Courts commissioned by the JDA in conjunction with the City of Johannesburg.


But these are all ‘official’ art projects rather than grass roots street art of which there is plenty in Joburg. In fact Jo Buitendach who made graffiti the subject of her Masters Dissertation at Wits, and who runs Past Experiences (google them) runs fascinating walking tours exploring graffiti in Maboneng and Newtown. If you join one of these tours you’ll see why Joburg is becoming known as a graffiti capital.


Every Freedom Day on 27th April there is a hip-hop festival in Newtown that celebrates street art and graffiti culture.  And in October there is the when street artists (local and international) paint large-scale murals on the city’s walls. The results are fabulous and liven up the cityscape.



So to have the Joburg Tourism partnering with Johannesburg In Your Pocket to develop Joburg as a shopping, art and neighbourhood destination is a really exciting initiative.   Joburg Tourism asks us to say ‘Hhoyi Hhoyi’ and make a visitor’s day. That we will for sure!

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Posted in Art and Exhibitions, Joburg and surrounds: things to do and see, Shopping, Theatre, entertainment & events, Tourism news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment