HM Queen Beatrix, HRH Prince Friso and HRH Princess Laurentien with members of the cast and artistic team of Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera. Photo was taken after the European premiere on 7 June in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam.
Photo: Capital Photos
The idea of a Sahel Opera came originally from His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands (1926 - 2002). His idea was to create an African opera production composed and performed by people from the various Sahel countries. During the many years he lived and worked in Africa, the Prince developed a great love for the continent and he felt that the Sahel region in particular had a wealth of talent in the fields of dance, music, design and fashion. He envisaged an opera that would highlight all those talents. The Fund established in his name took up the challenge to initiate the project. The Sahel Opera illustrates beautifully many dimensions of the link between culture and development.
The Sahel Opera is more than simply a first-rate, spectacular performance, attended by many people in Africa and beyond; it is also a durable project with a lasting, though partly intangible influence. New talent has been scouted for the Opera and has received an international platform. The Opera has created direct employment and, once the project is finished, the people involved will have skills and experience that help them develop new collaborative relations in the region and beyond, a process of broadening intercultural exchange. Furthermore, the production has created a new infrastructure - both cultural and logistical – that will remain.
The Sahel region covers Mauritania, Cape Verde, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
The Dutch Postal Code Lottery donated Euro 1,5 million to enable the Prince Claus Fund to realize the production of the Sahel Opera. The Postal Code Lottery is convinced that culture and development are inextricably interlinked. Culture can contribute to positive changes for people and communities. For this reason, the Prince Claus Fund has been one of the 25 beneficiaries of the Lottery since 2001 and has received financial support every year. The lottery, which is the largest charity lottery in The Netherlands, contributes 50 percent of its annual profit to carefully selected aid organizations and charities. In addition to the Postal Code Lottery, the Sahel Opera has received financial support from HGIS, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Embassy in Mali, the VandenEnde Foundation and Ford Foundation. www.postcodeloterij.nl