Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Botswana opening of the No 1 Ladies` Opera House

source: Times Online

The baritone paused as a train rattled by on the first night of Botswana’s new opera house

It was by far Botswana’s biggest musical event of the year – in fact, ever. Attending the official opening of the No 1 Ladies’ Opera House was Precious Ramotswe, Africa’s most famous detective – in the shape of Sheila Tlou, a former Minister of Health, who claims to be the person on whom the character in the book is based – and her creator, the Rhodesian-born Alexander McCall Smith.

The tiny “opera house”, a converted garage which served as the inspiration for J. L. B. Maketoni’s Speedy Motors in the detective stories, seats a mere 60 people. It may be no Covent Garden or La Scala, but in the capital, Gaborone, which has no other classical music venue, its arrival has been welcomed with enthusiasm.

The best of the country’s small, but growing band of classical music singers was on display. Gape Motswaledi, at 33 Botswana’s only professional (semi-professional actually) baritone, had been practising for months. He had to wait for a train to rumble past before launching into his first solo, Di Provenza il mar, from La traviata. For a maths teacher who taught himself to [continue reading]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An enemy in the heart of the No 1 Ladies` Detective Agency

source: Mmegi

Alexander McCall Smith (2008)

The ninth volume in the series, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith was released by the Penguin Group in South Africa in April this year. It is already in to its sixth reprinting, sales probably stimulated by the release of the TV film of Precious Ramotswe and her friends (Mmegi, 25 April 2008).

The Miracle at Speedy Motors takes the various adventures of the main characters forward, including: Grace Makutsi, assistant detective who would like to advance to associate detective, and her betrothed Mr Phuti Radiphuti of the Double Comfort Furniture Store - they are not yet married; Mr Polopetsi the obsequious part-time detective who also works at the Speedy Motors garage; the matron at the [continue reading]

Sunday, June 1, 2008

No. 1 Ladies` Opera House to bring arias to Botswana`s bushland

source: The Independent
By Lynne Walker
Sunday, 1 June 2008

It may only be a matter of time before Precious Ramotswe is operatically trilling her way through her private investigations. Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, has founded Botswana's first opera house, The No. 1 Ladies' Opera House. But the writer, who is himself no mean bassoonist, is keeping his plans for a future world premiere at the new venue firmly under wraps. He's brimming with enthusiasm, however, over immediate plans for his latest project which opens with "a grand-ish concert" on 21 June, sponsored by the Edinburgh-based author.

The building has been transformed from a 1940s recruitment station for miners to an extraordinary performing arts centre cum café in the African bush, about 10 minutes from the capital, Gaborone. McCall Smith first spotted its potential during the making of a BBC documentary about his novels, struck by its resemblance to his fictional Speedy Motors garage, and discovered it was available for lease. In collaboration with the former director of [continue reading]