The Creative Space
How do words become the lyrics of an opera? How does a writer create the imagined universe of a novel? And how do you mount an international opera, music and book festival in Buxton, Derbyshire? Michael Williams, CEO of Buxton International Festival, will explore these creative challenges in this talk.
Reflecting on twenty years of creating operas and novels in southern Africa, Michael will address the issue of cultural appropriation. He will explore how a writer must navigate the minefield of identity politics. Can writers only create fictional/operatic universes that echo their lived reality? Can a composer, writing in the contemporary western idiom, represent the life of a young black man growing up in the rural Transkei of the early 1900s?
Michael will shine a light on the creative process of the novelist and librettist and what these two art forms have to offer our increasingly polarised society. Using his three-act opera Mandela Trilogy, based on the life of Nelson Mandela, and his novel Diamond Boy about illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe, he will talk about fictionalizing the iconic Mandela, and creating a teenage diamond miner, Patson, from his research on the Marange mines.
About the speaker
Michael Williams was the CEO of Cape Town Opera from 2000 to 2018 until he relocated to Buxton, England. He is the author of 14 novels and 13 operas. His last novel Diamond Boy was published by Penguin in 2015. His last opera Georgiana, written for the 40th Anniversary of the Buxton International Festival, won the ‘Achievement Award in Opera’ at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards. His opera on Nelson Mandela, Mandela Trilogy, toured throughout the UK and Europe in 2016 and was invited to Dubai Opera and the Hong Kong Festival in 2017. Michael Williams is currently CEO of the Buxton International Festival.
Image credits: photo of Michael Williams: Anton De Beer
Photo of the Mandela Trilogy by Cape Town Opera, courtesy of Michael Williams
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