From the 18-21 July, coinciding with Nelson Mandela International Day, Artscape, Cape Town Opera and Magnet Theatre will present a double bill: the Brundibár opera, and a play, "The Children and the Bees", specially written for The Brundibár Project.

During the Holocaust, Hans Krasa’s childrens opera was performed 55 times in the Nazi ghetto ,Terezín, before its composer and many of the children in the cast were transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Now, 68 years later, this new production initiated by the Cape Town Holocaust Centre, is directed by Aviva Pelham and designed by Michael Mitchell. Since the 1970’s, Brundibár has been performed in hundreds of cities around the world, often in conjunction with educational programmes about the Holocaust and Human Rights. Performed as a double bill with a new play by Magnet Theatre, the two give new life to Brundibar’s universal message.

Ela Weissberger, who played the role of the Cat in all 55 Brundibár performances in Terezín, will be the special guest joining The Brundibár Project from the USA. She will give a pre-performance talk to audience members on Tuesday 19 July at 18.00 in the Artscape Orchestra Rehearsal Room. There will also be pre-performance talks at 18h00 in the Artscape Orchestra Rehearsal Room by Dr Vojtěch Blodig, Deputy Director of the Terezín Memorial who will speak on Wednesday 20 July about “How performances of Brundibár and other artistic responses were a form of resistance in the Terezín Ghetto”. Aviva Pelham, Michael Mitchell and Magnet Theatre directors will talk about the productions on Thursday 21 July.


Performed for the first time in South Africa, Brundibár tells the tale of a poor
family whose children seek money to buy milk for their sick mother, only to
have their quest thwarted by an evil organ grinder named Brundibár. With the
help of three intelligent animals, the children defeat the unjust bully and return home in triumph.

The childen’s cast performing the opera will be directed by renowned opera
singer Aviva Pelham and choreographed by Roxy Levy, with set & costume
design by Michael Mitchell

Composer: Hans Krása
Libretto: Adolf Hoffmeister with English translation by Joža Karas
Director: Aviva Pelham
Conductor: Alexander Fokkens and Warren Patientia
Choreography: Roxy Levy
Set and costume design: Michael Mitchell
Assistant Director: Cheree Rossouw
Choir Master:Linda Claassen
Pianist: Paula Spiegel


The acclaimed Magnet Theatre will perform the complementary play under the direction of Mark Fleishman, assisted by Frances Marek, Faniswa Yisa and Alex Halligey. Staff, trainees and the children’s cast will use South African storytelling tradition to explore the themes of displacement, migration and refugees.

We have been tasked with creating a companion piece to the opera that is related to its themes but not a mere repetition in a different medium. We have focused on displacement and, because Brundibar means bumblebee in Czech, we decided to create a story about bees and Bra-B, the bee-man. While Brundibar is located in, and derived from, a European context and literary/artistic tradition, we asked how this might translate to our African context and traditions.  While we have not attempted to create an authentic Ntsomi (a Xhosa tale told by adults for the edification of children), we have referenced this local form and re-imagined it as a tale told by children for the edification of adults.

Playwright: Mark Fleishman, Frances Marek, Faniswa Yisa, Alex Halligey, Magnet trainees and cast
Director: Mark Fleishman assisted by Frances Marek, Faniswa Yisa,
Alex Halligey

The performances form part of Cape Town Opera’s 2011 Educational and
Community Outreach programme
and Artscape’s Audience Development and Education Programme.

School workshops and a significant exhibition of children's writing and artworks will run concurrently with the performances.


A model of the Brundibár Opera set and costume design by Cape Town Opera’s designer, Michael Mitchell


Monday, 18 July 2011 at 19h00
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at 19h00
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 at 15h00
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 at 19h00
Thursday, 21 July 2011 at 19h00

Pre-performance talks will take place in the Artscape Orchestra Rehearsal Room at 18h00:
Tuesday 19 July - Ela Weissberger
Wednesday 20 July -Dr Vojtěch Blodig, Deputy Director of Terezin Memorial
Thursday 21 July - Aviva Pelham, Magnet Theatre directors, Michael Mitchell


Ticket prices are R45 for adults, R20 for scholars and 10% off all bookings
of 10 or more.

Book at Computicket
Discounts only available at Computicket outlets or through the
Call Centre 083 915 8000

Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695
For corporate bookings email

Above: Learners participating in a Brundibár Workshop designed by Magnet Theatre

  Chorus master, Linda Claassen rehearses with children in the Brundibár opera chor   Director Aviva Pelham and pianist Stefan Lombard work with Brundibár opera soloists