Enthusiastic reactions to Sahel Opera in Bamako

March 2007 -

After overcoming numerous obstacles, in part due to the sudden death of the producer late in 2006, Bintou Wéré, un Opéra du Sahel finally premiered in Mali’s capital Bamako on 17 February 2007. A few reactions from the audience.


Copyright: Prince Claus Fund. Photo: Diango Cisse, Bamako

Amadou Dama, travel organiser: "Prince Claus is no longer with us, but in Africa the dead are not dead. With this opera he will stay in our hearts. Culture is stronger than war. It alone helps us overcome our daily problems. This opera shows you the power of culture. Mali was lucky to have the premiere. We should take pride in that. A spectacle of this type has never been performed here."

Copyright: Olivier Verstraeten

Fenny Steenks of the Dutch embassy staff: "The location was beautiful. A stage was built along the Niger, Mali's lifeline. The bridge over the Niger nearby was closed for the performance. The traffic noise and the light from the lampposts would have affected the performance. The audience was seated on chairs in an open-air theatre specially built for the occasion. The performance was presented in various local languages. From the reactions it is clear that the story of Bintou W�r�, a woman travelling with a group of men to Europe, was very recognizable. The star role was played by Djeneba Kone, a fantastic singer who will hopefully attract much attention with her performance. The Sahel Opera was a popular radio topic and there were posters throughout the city; everyone was talking about it."

Copyright: Prince Claus Fund

Marja Oostwoud Wijdenes, travel guide: "It was beautiful to look at and the location was unique. It is fantastic to sit among the locals in the audience. Everyone sympathized intensively and made comments. My Bambara is not very good, but you could feel that they recognized the story, giving them a kind of solidarity."

From 7 to 9 June in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ during the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, and in Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in October.