On Music, Human Spirit, Exiled Princesses, and Binders Full of Women

Yes, you got it right, binders full of women. If you happen to be a Republican with no sense of humor, you’ll probably de-friend me and stop reading my awesome blog. But if you do possess some wit, then probably you should become a Democrat altogether. For some weird reason, I happen to have one of these binders full of women – questionable attitude, you might think.

A binder full of women

A binder full of women


Well, but what happens when you put together Lakme, Charlotte, The Queen Of The Night, Sesto, Elisabeth, Leonora, Norma, Carmen, and Madama Butterfly, all in one place? You surely get a binder full of Powerful Women of Opera. And that was the theme of our opening concert.

The concert went pretty well, given that I was playing from the main floor, while my divas, Lindsay and Nani, were on stage. Despite the acoustic challenges, we managed to pull it off quite nicely.

Intense master-classes have followed each evening ever since, where Lindsay and Nani coach the local singers, while I do my piano part (been sight reading quite a lot). It is with amazement to discover some unbelievable voices here, some of which truly have the potential of an international career.

But what amazes me even more than that is the shared passion for music that all these people have, and even more importantly, the easiness and modesty with which they acknowledge the difference in level among themselves. No sense of envy was to be detected, and one is better than the other, everyone would openly acknowledge it.

Attending a special music school for gifted children, I grew up in a very competitive environment, where the idea of shared progress and shared success was not necessarily a value cultivated in ourselves by neither our teachers, nor our parents. Over here, given the very difficult circumstances all these people live in, the approach is opposite. There is a certain thirst for knowledge that all of our students express, and that’s what makes me ponder on the values of life and equal chances. Unfortunately, we are not born equal, and that can be seen here more so than many other places I’ve been to.

Yesterday we were in luck: a group of traditional dancers from a tswanan village came to Gaborone to perform just for us, an experience that can’t be easily forgotten. Dressed in close to nothing, they displayed a wide array of moods and feelings in their chants, clapping, and rhythms. What a treat for five Caucasians who are here for 2 weeks to preach about opera.

At the lodge we are staying at there is a little girl with her father. Every morning she would come to our table when we have breakfast and would try to mingle. It was to great surprise for all of us to find out that she is in fact a South African princess, and that her father took her out of the country seeking protection from the country’s embassy in Botswana. Her mother, the queen of one of the 9 main tribes in South Africa passed away age 26 when the little girl was just 6 months old, and her uncle, who is in regency until the little one turns majority, is now trying to kill her in order for him to remain in power. All these we found from the father.

It is a rainy Friday morning, an unusual phenomena, yet very much appreciated by the locals. While everyone seems to be overly excited about it, coming from Raincouver, I certainly am not. Our next concert is just in a few hours, with a new programme, this time a “Jewelry Box” – selections from famous operas, seasoned with some solo piano works rendered by yours truly.

Sunday is our only day off, during which we are planning on visiting a few local attractions. The team is surely ready for new adventures!

Till next time!

One response to “On Music, Human Spirit, Exiled Princesses, and Binders Full of Women

  1. Pingback: the Voices of Botswana | the Globetrotting Soprano·

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