August at the Academy









Thursday 3 August    Licence to Kill [Bond 16]

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

Shortly after an important drug bust, CIA agent Felix Leiter gets married, but the drug lord he arrested escapes, mutilates Leiter and has his new wife killed. His old friend, James Bond, seeks revenge but ‘M’ orders 007 to drop the matter and start a new assignment so Bond deserts Her Majesty’s Secret Service to embark on a personal vendetta and find those responsible.

  • The stunts all look convincing, and the effect of the closing sequence is exhilarating … Licence to Kill is one of the best of the recent Bonds.  [Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times]

Without question the most underrated film of the series. Licence to Kill is a tightly plotted thriller free of the silliness and lazy writing that often plagued the Moore years. [GQ Magazine]

  • A pure, rousingly entertaining action movie…   [Newsweek]

  • Both the toughest Bond movie ever and the most entertaining Bond movie ever. A rare entry in the series where the danger seems real.  [Fantastica Daily]

  • The thrills-and-spills chases are superbly orchestrated as the film spins at breakneck speed through its South Florida and Central American locations. [Variety]

  • No one can deny that the action scenes staged by director John Glen are some of the most spectacular of the entire series.  [TV Guide]

  • Some of 007’s earlier adventures fail to hold up, but in a post-Taken world, Licence to Kill has certainly aged well and is an under-appreciated gem in the Bond catalogue.  [Lyles’ Movie Files, November 2015]

  • Licence to Kill ranks as one of the best of the Bond films thanks to Dalton’s athletic, tough and deadly new 007.  [Philadelphia Daily News, May 2014]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.  Bacon steak, egg and chips: $7.00



Friday 4 August   Jewels

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.   Carriages: 9.15 p.m.

Balanchine’s ballet was first performed 50 years ago on 13 April 1967.




Jewels dates from late in Balanchine’s career as a choreographer and was the first three-act plotless ballet. There is contrast in both music and style for each of the three acts which are linked only by the dancers’ dazzling costumes encrusted with coloured gems corresponding to the title of the act. For the opening Emeralds, set to music by Fauré, the dancers appear in long green tulle skirts, and the demure choreography is reminiscent of the nineteenth-century French school in its languid and flowing manner. The playful second act, Rubies, is accompanied by Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra and full of character and wit.  Its striking angular poses bring to mind the modern New York scene, even evoking movie musicals. Diamonds evokes the classical era of Imperial Russia and the dancers, dressed in flat white tutus, sparkle to movements from Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony.

Jewels will be preceded by Kenneth Macmillan’s one-act ballet, Concerto, premiered just six months before Jewels, and danced by the Royal Ballet.

  • It is open to doubt whether even George Balanchine has ever created a work in which the inspiration is so sustained, the invention so imaginative or the concept so magnificent.  [New York Times]

  • The Mariinsky is the greatest dance troupe in the world.  [Financial Times]

  • Balanchine’s 1967 creation is a dazzling stylistic potpourri of pure dance, a spectacular sight.  [Dancing Times]

  • Concerto is MacMillan threading Balanchine territory with a sweeping and romantic Pas de Deux and  the Swiss precision of a great corps de ballet, with no tutus in sight.  [The Ballet Bag]

  • Yuhui Choe and Steven McRae blaze cheerfully through the staccato opening section [of Concerto], full of light jumps, and super-fast turns; Marianela Nuñez and Rupert Pennefather bring a lustrous inwardness to the serenely beautiful slow movement.  [The Telegraph]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available from 6.00 p.m. ($10.00): Beef fillet kebabs, savoury rice and vegetables. Granadilla tart.


Tuesday 8 August   The Kingswood College Concert Band

Girls’ College at 7.00 p.m.

Wednesday 9 August   The Kingswood College Concert Band




Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

The 40-strong Kingswood College Concert Band will be remembered from its very successful visit five years ago and presents two concerts with programmes that include something for everyone. There will be music by Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, songs from the shows, music from the 80s and the James

Bond films, Bohemian Rhapsody, Holst’s First Suite, ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’, the Billy Joel Songbook, the Hallelujah Chorus, Klezmer Karnival, ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and more!

Booking is at Girls College for the concert there and at the Academy for BOTH CONCERTS.

Tickets: $5.00  –  Scholars in uniform: $1.00  –  Academy concert is free to Red Carpet members.



Friday 11 August   Russian Music from the Proms

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.    Carriages: 9.05 p.m.

Rimsky Korsakov: Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43

The BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky

With the Proms under way in London, here’s one in Bulawayo conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky,the first Russian conductor to be appointed head of a major Western orchestra. Considered – perhaps not surprisingly – a great interpreter of Russian orchestral music, these Prom recordings are superb examples of his art and include a thrilling performance of Rachmaninov’s First :Piano Concerto with Rozhdestvensky‘s wife Viktoria Postnikova as soloist.

  • The Soviet conductor…brought to the music an easy command and a dramatic sensibility.  [The Times]

  • Gennady Rozhdestvensky is one of Russia’s true masters of the baton…His engagement of the orchestra is equally masterful. With his subtle hands and explicit stick he draws each player into the focus of his interpretive intent. [The Guardian]

  • One of the finest Russian conductors with a real feel for the music. The Rimsky-Korsakov is beautiful. The Rachmaninov displays sensitive communication with the pianist, Viktoria Postnikova, Rozhdestvensky’s wife. It makes one wonder why this concerto is so neglected.  [Classic Archive]

  • This is a conductor who eschews all flamboyance, all the while generating performances of stunning architecture and rhythmic alertness.  [Fanfare]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available from 6.00 p.m. ($10.00): Haddock pie and vegetables. Carrot cake.



Thursday 17 August   The Moonstone

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.




The Moonstone, a sacred Hindu diamond believed to carry a curse, was stolen from a shrine in India. In 1848, just days before her 18th birthday, Yorkshire heiress Rachel Verinder discovers the jewel has been bequeathed to her by her estranged uncle and it is delivered by a young relative, Franklin Blake, but the next morning, the jewel is gone. It falls upon the renowned detective Sergeant Cuff to attempt to unravel the mystery of the stolen diamond. Has one of the obvious suspects committed the crime, or could there be a more

sinister force at work?…

This acclaimed BBC TV adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ classic mystery, the first detective novel ever written, stars Greg Wise, Keeley Hawes and Antony Sher.

The Moonstone with its quality acting, beautiful haunting music and atmospheric scenery is well worth watching,  []

  • The film captures perfectly Wilkie Collin’s 19th century world and the crime which is at the heart of the story. This is great, plausible and realistic with superb acting and story telling.  [Amazon]
  • There is much to enjoy here, the scenery and settings are great, the photography and music excellent. The principal actors, Greg Wise and Keeley Hawes, are fine, playing it straight and acting their way through the twists and turns of the plot with great sincerity.  [IMDb]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.  Beef curry, rice and tomato and onion salad: $6.00



Friday 18 August   Donizetti: Gemma di Vergy

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.  Carriages: 9.45 p.m.


Gemma di Vergy dates from the middle of Donizetti’s career when he had already achieved fame and respect with Anna Bolena and L’elisir d’amore whilst Lucia di Lammermoor was just around the corner. The opera was very popular with many performances prior to 1900 but then fell out of the repertoire. A large part of the reason for this neglect is that the music Donizetti wrote for Gemma is difficult in the extreme, both in its demand on the vocalist’s technical virtuosity and on her emotional stamina – Montserrat Caballé, the first modern exponent of Gemma, sang the role in the 1970s and reportedly called it the equal of three Normas! The highly melodramatic plot concerns the Count of Vergy who has obtained an annulment of his marriage to Gemma because they have been unable to have children. Devastated, she reacts with furious intensity, threatening the Count’s intended new bride with a knife, then is driven to despair and madness following the murder of her husband by a servant who is secretly in love with her.

  • There was an outstanding interpreter of the title role in 29-year-old Maria Agresta, whose full, iridescent soprano dealt handily with the music’s demands for bel canto gracefulness as well as for Verdi-like fervour, offering some beautiful pianissimos along the way. She made a tremendous impact in her shattering closing scene.  [New York Times].

  • This production of Gemma di Vergy is the best of all operas I have seen in many, many years. Beautiful traditional costumes and sets, outstanding music and – Glory to God! – no modernisms. This is opera as conceived by the composer and not the whims of modern directors.  [Amazon]

  • Maria Agresta is a wonderful protagonist with singing so refined as to verge on perfection.  [GB Opera Magazine]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members] 

Dinner available from 6.00 p.m. ($10.00): Roast pork, roast potatoes and vegetables. Ice cream and chocolate sauce.



Thursday 24 August   Enemy at the Gates

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m..

The Germans reached Stalingrad 75 years ago on 23 August 1942.

Joseph Fiennes and Jude Law star in this riveting account of the 1942-43 Battle of Stalingrad, one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. Talented sharpshooter Vassili is a rural youth who becomes a national hero by almost single-handedly holding back the German assault. That is, until the Nazis send a gifted marksman of their own to the besieged city, his sole mission to assassinate Vassili.

  • A mainstream movie that works well on three levels -as a psychological thriller, a love story, and as an epic account of a defining battle of the Second World War.  [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Can’t easily be dismissed or forgotten.  [New York Post]

  • A powerful and gripping story of war depicted on both its grandest and most intimate levels.  [Calgary Sun]

  • Impressive visually, with great sets and a grim feel of massive tragedy.  [Houston Chronicle]

  • It’s remarkable.  [Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Trbune]

  • Elaborate, exciting and lavishly shot.  [Chicago Tribune]

  • A considerable achievement, a thinking man’s war movie with a more compelling story than that of Saving Private Ryan.  [Hollywood Reporter]

  • It’s good enough to make you want to know more.  [Contra Costa Times]

  • The action is powerful, the drama intense.  [The Mirror]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Pasta with bacon, tomato and cream sauce: $7.00



Friday 25 August   Giordano: Andrea Chénier

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.   Carriages: 9.25 p.m.

Umberto Giordano was born 150 years ago on 28 August 1867.

Andrea Chénier was a great success at its premiere at La Scala, Milan in 1896 and has remained Giordano’s most popular opera, full of heart-stopping big tunes and powerful emotional situations. If it is not as well-known as it should be, it is perhaps because in summary it sounds a little too like Puccini’s Tosca (which it preceded by four years): there is a tussle between political opponents over a woman, an attempt to save a condemned man, a tenor writing poetry on the eve of execution. The difference is that Gérard is not a villain like Scarpia, he is an idealist whom the French Revolution has betrayed as much as it has his rival, the poet Chénier. His temptation to abuse his power to seduce the virtuous Maddalena is a momentary one, though its consequences are terrible.




Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House in London.

  • Andrea Chénier may not be the best-known opera in the repertoire, but rarely has it been so magnificently served as in this production.  [Tutti Magazine]

  • Kaufmann is performing the title role for the first time, and it’s hard to imagine him bettered. His striking looks make him very much the Romantic and romanticised outsider of Giordano’s vision. His voice, with its dark, liquid tone, soars through the music with refined ease and intensity: all those grand declarations of passion, whether political or erotic, hit home with terrific immediacy.  [The Guardian]

  • The Countess de Coigny in sumptuous purple satin is sung to great effect by Rosalind Plowright, as is Elena Zilio’s Madelon…never less than compelling on screen, Jonas Kaufmann is a perfect foil to Eva-Maria Westbroek’s Maddalena who wrings every last drop of emotion out of La mamma morta…but the man of the hour is Antonio Pappano who conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House as if all their lives depended on it.  [ BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 ****]

  • Captivating from start to finish, Giordano’s flawed masterpiece Andrea Chénier is presented in a sterling production under director David McVicar. Kaufmann’s voice is in superb condition, expressive and compellingly projected in his arias. [MusicWeb International, September 2016]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available from 6.00 p.m. ($10.00):  Salt beef with carrots and potatoes and vegetables. Milk tart.



Monday 28 August   The Fidelio Trio

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

The ”virtuosic Fidelio Trio’ (Sunday Times) are Darragh Morgan (violin), Adi Tal (cello) and Mary Dullea (piano).  Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the Fidelio Trio are enthusiastic champions of the piano trio genre, performing the widest possible range of repertoire on concert stages across the world; they also broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, RTÉ Lyric FM, WNYC, NPR and feature regularly on Sky Arts documentaries.

Their very generous programme is:

Beethoven: Piano Trio No.4 in D major, Op.70, No.1 – ‘Ghost’

Ravel: Piano Trio in A minor

Saint-Saëns: Piano Trio No 2 in E Minor, Op.92

The Ravel and Saint-Saëns Trios featured on the Fidelio’s latest CD release and were a Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice: ‘The Fidelio’s interpretation [of the Saint-Saëns] possesses admirable clarity and definition, polish and brio, qualities they bring also to a very different world of sound in the Ravel Trio. In both works their interpretative touch is secure, their rapport instinctive. Together with their eloquence and passion, this all adds up to something special.’  [November 2016]

Tickets: $10.00 and $5.00, free to Red Carpet members. Booking at the Academy from Monday 21 August (9.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.)

Dinner will be available after the concert, cost $10.00: Stuffed roast chicken, roast potatoes, bread sauce and vegetables. Malva pudding and cream.


Thursday 31 August   The Last of the Mohicans

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.  [50 Club Draw; 6.45 p.m.]

The film was released 25 years ago on 26 August 1992

The Last of the Mohicans is an epic historical drama set in 1757 as the English and French battle for control of the North American colonies and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe and Jodhi May. Settlers and Indians alike are forced to take sides and Hawkeye, a white man adopted by the last members of the Mohican tribe, unwittingly becomes the protector of the two daughters of a British colonel – but they are targeted by Magua, a sadistic and vengeful Huron warrior determined to destroy the girls’ father for a past injustice.

  • An exciting, visually stunning, and satisfying epic adventure.  []

  • It’s the most ecstatic piece of action movie-making I’ve seen in years.  [Entertainment Weekly]

  • Incredible and flawless.  []

  • A lush and irresistible historic adventure.  [Flipside Movie Emporium]

  • Simply terrific action film.  [Your Movies]

  • The action is richly detailed and thrillingly staged.  [Rolling Stone]

  • A spellbindingly beautiful old-fashioned epic.  [Good Morning America]

  • Big, bold, and gloriously sweeping.  [ReelViews]

  • Painstakingly, breathtakingly re-created by director Michael Mann, this landscape makes room for heroes with principles greater than the circumference of their biceps.  [Washington Post]

  • One of the best motion pictures ever made. An emotional, rich journey full of plenty of twists and turns, with the perfect hero to root for in Day-Lewis. The most impressive aspect of the entire film is perhaps director Michael Mann’s eye for scenery – this movie contains some of the most breathtaking shots in cinematic history.  [Rotten Tomatoes – 96% rating]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Fillet steak rolls,  sauce and salad: $7.00


Friday 1 September   Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa  

Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.    Carriages: 10.10 p.m.

Tchaikovsky’s opera Mazeppa and the poem by Pushkin that inspired it are both based on a real life historical figure, Ivan Mazeppa, the ruler of a Cossack people who early in the 1700s struck an alliance with Charles XII of Sweden, and led a Ukrainian revolt against the Russian Czar, Peter the Great. Mazeppa’s plan failed and he and Charles were defeated at the Battle of Poltava. Another more personal (and factual!) event in Mazeppa’s life also features, a decidedly operatic May-December romance between the elderly Cossack general and Mariya, the young daughter of a man Mazeppa condemns to death.

  • Mazeppa is blessed with a number of dramatic moments especially the stunning ‘Battle of Poltava’ which has Gergiev in his element. The beautiful costumes are a joy to observe and the lavish stage production is truly a visual feast.  [Classical Net]

  • The production is in the best spirit of the Mariinsky, sumptuous to look at and full of period atmosphere, a faithful attempt to match what the composer might have expected to see on stage. This is a very distinguished production and a hugely enjoyable evening.  [Penguin Guide]

  • This Kirov production from 1996 is aces all the way. The production itself is just outstanding – perhaps the best of any opera on DVD. The large staging, gigantic Russian choruses (always a plus), superb costumes, and incredible orchestra, make this a pure visual treat. And the filming (by Brian Large) is perfect with incredible sound! The singers, especially Nikolai Putilin as Mazeppa, are excellent.  [Amazon]

  • Singing and acting are exceptional in every role. The staging is grand and realistic with hundreds of costumed singing extras on stage as required. The dancing in the party scene is everything you could hope for with wild leaps, spins and jumps.  For the terrific tone poem describing the Battle of Poltava, there is even a full marching band playing on stage!  [MusicWeb-International]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members] 

Dinner available from 6.00 p.m. ($10.00): Stir fried chicken with peppers and pineapple with rice or noodles. Chocolate éclair.







The Academy proposes to launch a drama group for children and teenagers in the second term on a weekday afternoon.  The cost will depend on the numbers enrolling for the group and the day will be chosen to suit the majority who have shown interest – this seems preferable to naming a specific afternoon at this stage. 

Anyone who is interested should give their names to the Academy office either by e-mail ( or telephone (60684 / 67195) and state their preference for an afternoon – sessions will last for two hours.
There are many benefits to joining a drama group and it’s perhaps worth listing a few:


  1. CONFIDENCE: joining a drama class helps your confidence grow. You may start off feeling nervous at the thought of performing in front of the smallest audience, but you’ll be surprised at how before long you are up on stage without any nerves. Even performing in front of your fellow class members will soon become a comfortable experience.
  2. SOCIAL: drama is a very social experience, so it’s a great way to meet people
  3. CREATIVE: sometimes we need to let our creative side loose. Frequently our everyday lives do not provide any opportunities to use our imagination. Everyone can benefit from creative activities, and drama is a fantastic way of unleashing your creativity.
  4. FUN!: then there’s the fact that drama is a great deal of fun. At first you may feel self-conscious, but throw yourself into the exercises and it won’t take long for your discomfort to pass. You’ll find yourself laughing at and with your classmates, and we all know how good laughter is for us.
  5. NEW HOBBY: if you need a new hobby, drama is a great option and one that opens up a lot
    of opportunities. You can dedicate as little or as much time as you want. If you’re short on time, a weekly class may be enough. Or you can get involved in greater depth and be part of performing a play. It’s up to you!
  6. OTHER: performing isn’t the only aspect of putting on a play. There are a lot of backstage participants supporting the actors. If you’re a textiles student or good at sewing you could work on costumes.You can get involved in writing or directing. Or there’s working on publicity, designing the programmes, or working on the ticket office. Drama is a fantastic hobby; we can’t all be professional actors but there is often a very high standard in amateur theatre. Even if you don’t want to perform to the public, a drama class is fun, educational and has applications in other parts of your life. It’s also very social and friendly.


Please contact the Academy office if this is of interest!

A Busy Week at the Academy!



As an Academy fund-raiser, there will be a special showing of the Oscar-winning film with a red carpet, snacks and drinks!

Tickets from the Academy: $10.00



The second in the series of historical dinner talks will cover the early days of the present city of Bulawayo from the time of the Matabele Rebellion through to 1940. There will be a two-course dinner.

Tickets are $25 per head, available from the Academy (cash or swipe machine) or by calling/whatsapping Violette on 0772851609 (Ecocash, cash, RTGS), with proceeds going to the Bulawayo Help Network.



The end-of-term concert will also include the Girls’ College Music Group and performers from Eastview School as well as the Academy’s own students ranging from classical cello to pop vocals!

Admission Free.


The March draw for the 50 Club will take place after the concert and before…


The murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected since the days of Christ. Only the victim’s granddaughter and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle the clues he left behind. The two become both suspects and detectives searching for not only the murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect.

“They say The Da Vinci Code has sold more copies than any book since the Bible. Dan Brown’s novel is utterly preposterous; Ron Howard’s movie is preposterously entertaining.”   [Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members]



Live in Vienna was recorded at the Hofburg Palace, the seat of Austrian imperial power and the music is accordingly almost all Viennese – Johann Strauss, Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Mozart, Robert Stolz and many others, and room is also found for The Sound of Music! – against the background of the most beautiful, stylish scenery you can imagine.

“What can I say that hasn’t been said before? It’s Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra. If it’s your kind of music (and if it’s not, there must be something wrong with you), you’ll love it.”  [Amazon review]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00): Chicken, vegetable and cashew nut stir fry with rice or noodles. Scones with jam and cream.  Must be ordered in advance!



Sadly, both Adri and Deon will be leaving Bulawayo in early April.  They will be joined by friends for this farewell concert including Rose Green, Jessie Ndlovu, Emma Price, Dorothy Sikwela, Graham Bishop, Pieter Cloete and Jan Cloete.

The programme will include:
Haydn: Andante molto from Trio in C Major
Schubert: Entr’acte from Rosamunde
Mozart: Fantasie in D minor
Albeniz: Recuerdos de la Viaje
Deon Marcus: Ballade in C minor
Handel: Ombra mai fu
Cello Solo TBA
Frank: Panis Angelicus

Plus a selection that will include Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Love Changes EverythingEmpty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les MiserablesJealously, Return to Sorrento, John Denver’s Perhaps Love and, for extra measure, A Love Until the End of Time and O Mio Babbino Caro! And of course Dawn from Pride & Prejudice!

Admission: $5.00 – no advance booking

Wine and cheese will be available after the concert, the latter as part of the ticket price, the former at a modest price!

History Dinners

History Dinner Talks

The Academy is delighted to announce that it will be hosting a first for Bulawayo!

Paul Hubbard will over the next two months conduct a lively series of historical dinner talks, and it seems fitting that all proceeds will go to the Bulawayo Help Network to assist the elderly, the people who represent our history and yet are so often deeply disadvantaged.

The second in the series will cover the early days of the present city of Bulawayo and the Matabele Rebellion through to 1940, and will take place with a sumptuous two-course dinner on Wednesday 22 March at the Academy starting at 6.00 p.m.

Tickets are $25 per head and available from the Academy (cash or swipe machine) or by calling/whatsapping Violette on 0772851609 (Ecocash, cash, RTGS).

 Depending on demand the evening may be repeated on Wednesday 29 March.



As an Academy fund-raiser, there will be a special showing of the Oscar-winning film with a red carpet, snacks and drinks!

Dress the part and come to the Oscars at the Academy! Tickets from the Academy: $10.00 


Admission Free


Admission: $5.00 – no advance booking

November at the Academy



Thursday 3 November: Silver Streak – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 4 November: Verdi: Otello – 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 10 November: Carousel – 7,.00 p.m.
Friday 11 November: A Bridge Too Far – 7.00 p.m.
Saturday 12 November: The Harare Male Voice Choir – 7.00 p.m
Thursday 17 November: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 18 November: Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera – 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 24 November: 50 Club Draw – 6.45 p.m.
Thursday 24 November: Our Mutual Friend – Part 1 – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 25 November: Bernstein conducts Brahms & Tchaikovsky – 6.30 p.m.
Wednesday 30 November: Academy end-of-year concert – 6.00 p.m.


Please note that the usual pattern has been changed on Thursday 10 / Friday 11 November.

Carousel will be shown on Thursday 10 November and the film A Bridge Too Far as a joint promotion with the MOTHs on Friday 11 November which is Armistice Day.  Both will begin at 7.00 p.m. and supper will be available from 6.15 p.m.


Thursday 3 November
Silver Streak
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

Gene Wilder died at the end of August.  Several of his films will be shown over the coming months, beginning with Silver Streak which, as well as being one of his most entertaining, marked the beginning of his celebrated partnership with Richard Pryor.

While taking a slow, restful train trip on ‘Silver Streak’ from L.A. to Chicago, mild-mannered George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) finds romance with Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh), but later that evening he sees the body of Hilly’s boss being thrown off of the train. Hilly is kidnapped and George himself targeted for elimination, but, in eluding the killers, he falls off the train and ends up being arrested by a local sheriff. He makes his escape in the company of petty thief Grover Muldoon (Richard Pryor) – and that’s only the beginning!


• Time magazine nominated Silver Streak the third best train movie of all time in 2010.

• The American Film Institute listed this as one of the top 100 comedies, and I think they got it right. This was the first and best pairing of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.  [IMDb]

• Here’s the thing. My fond memory of Silver Streak had everything to do with Wilder. At nearly every moment he’s on-screen, he’s either doing something that helps you believe the action or makes it all so slyly funny you don’t care that you don’t believe it.  [Los Angeles Times]

• A nifty little Hitchcock knock-off, with great chemistry between Wilder and Pryor.  [Capital Times]

• The beginning of the perfectly splendid comic duo of Wilder and Pryor. And man, do I ever miss them.  []

• Nutty blend of comedy, romance, action and suspense… a highly entertaining picture and the best Wilder/Pryor pairing.  [Maltin’s Movie Guide]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Fish, chips and coleslaw: $7.00


Friday 4 November
Verdi: Otello
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 10.00 p.m.

Otello is a miraculous union of music and drama, a masterpiece as profound philosophically as it is thrilling theatrically. Shakespeare’s tale of an outsider, a great hero who can’t control his jealousy, was carefully moulded by Arrigo Boito into a taut and powerful libretto. But Otello almost wasn’t written. It had been eight years since Verdi’s last opera, Aïda, and in the interim he had produced only a single work, the celebrated Requiem. Wealthy and greatly revered, he considered himself retired from the theatre and he seemed quite content to pursue philanthropic projects and enjoy his vast manor (which employed 16 gardeners!) without risking his considerable reputation on another opera. It took Boito and publisher, Giulio Ricordi, several years to persuade him to take on a major new work but the result was perhaps his greatest masterpiece.

• Recorded live at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995, this production pairs Renée Fleming at her most luminous as Desdemona with Plácido Domingo in what was arguably the greatest of his 100-odd roles… James Levine conducts with his customary empathy and energy.  [Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical]

• It is good to have on DVD so telling a reminder of Plácido Domingo’s masterly assumption of the role of Otello, particularly when at the Met in 1996 he was singing opposite Renée Fleming as Desdemona, then at her freshest and purest, yet also with power, looking and sounding girlish. James Levine’s direction is high-powered from beginning to end, matching the singing of the principals and controlling the massive forces in this lavish production.  [Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00): Roast leg of pork, roast potatoes and vegetables.  Ice cream and chocolate sauce.


Thursday 10 November
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

In 1999, Time magazine, in its ‘Best of the Century’ list, named Carousel ‘the Best Musical of the 20th century’, writing that Rodgers and Hammerstein ‘set the standards for the 20th century musical, and this show features their most beautiful score and the most skilful and affecting example of their musical storytelling’.


Richard Rodgers himself said that Carousel was his favourite of all his musicals and wrote, ‘it affects me deeply every time I see it performed’. The score includes classics like If I Loved You, June is Bustin’ Out All Overand You’ll Never Walk Alone, not to mention the eponymous Carousel Waltz.

• Truly some of the most beautiful and most sophisticated music to come out of Broadway.  [Rotten Tomatoes]

• Among several Rogers and Hammerstein masterpieces, it really stands out. Few musicals before or after dare to go to some of the dark places Carousel takes us. It’s a fascinating journey.  []


• It is impossible to describe Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel without using the word ‘haunting’. Considered by most critics and admirers to be their darkest musical, it’s a blend of beautiful and memorable music, a story of love unspoken, feelings unexpressed, disappointment, joy and death.  [Classic Film and TV Café]

• Excellent film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s memorable adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s Liliom, with Gordon MacRae as rowdy carousel barker Billy Bigelow, who tries to change for the better when he falls in love with Shirley Jones…. moving characters, timeless songs. [Maltin’s Movie Guide]


•  A haunting, beautiful film, Carousel wasn’t a success with audiences when it was released in 1956, but over the years, it has gained in reputation. The power and beauty of R & H’s famous, lyrical songs provide a haunting, sad atmosphere that elevates it above the average Hollywood music and it now stands as one of the best examples of the genre.  [DVD Talk]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet Members]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Macaroni cheese: $6.00


Friday 11 November
A Bridge Too Far
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

A Bridge Too Far is the true story of Operation Market Garden, the Allies’ attempt, in September 1944, to hasten the end of the Second World War II by driving through Belgium and Holland into Germany. The idea was for US airborne divisions to take the towns of Eindhoven and Nijmegen and a British airborne brigade to take the town of Arnhem. They would be reinforced in due course by a land-based corps driving up from the British lines in the south. The key to the operation was the bridges, as if the Germans held or blew them, the paratroopers could not be relieved. Faulty intelligence, hubris in the Allied high command and stubborn German resistance ensured that Arnhem was a bridge too far.


• A gripping bit of cinema.  [Moviehole, 4 July 2005]

• Richard Attenborough’s monumental war drama about one of the most stirring battles of World War II presents the most impressive all-star cast ever assembled for a single production. It is a cut above most cinematic portrayals of historical events… The film shakes you. The pity of it touches you… [IMDb ] ]

• Fantastic WW2 epic with a 1970s ‘all star’ cast.that recreates this complicated and tragic military venture with breathtaking sweep, historical accuracy and sober-eyed humanism.’  []

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film Members]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m. Beef curry and rice with tomato and onion salad: $5.00 (special price!)


Saturday 12 November
The Harare Male Voice Choir
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

The Harare Male Voice Choir is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee with a series of concerts combined with the Phoenix Choir, including this one in Bulawayo. Further details to follow.

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00)


Thursday 17 November
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

This is another but very different film set during World War II. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.


• See it at all costs. It is both wonderful and devastating.  [New York Observer]

• The power of the story and the performances is indisputable.  [Rolling Stone]

• The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is an impressively directed and acted drama that packs a powerful emotional punch.  [View London]

• It’s a noble, sincere undertaking that will see many leave the cinema with fresh insights. You can’t really ask for much more than that.  [Sky Movies]

• One of the most strikingly original movies about the end of childhood I’ve ever seen.  [Flick Filosopher]

• An unforgettable motion picture experience. Powerful and moving beyond words.  []

• The power of this story and the way director Mark Herman tells it through the innocent eyes of an eight year old boy overcome all the hurdles with its child-like simplicity that clutches our hearts.  [Urban Cinefile]

• This beautifully rendered family film is told in a classic and old-fashioned style, in the best sense, providing poignant and powerful teachable moments.  [USA Today]

• The performances never falter, and even James Horner’s heavy-handed score can’t dim the film’s unfathomable, unshakable ending.  [Boston Phoenix]

• A devastating experience for both the characters and the audience.  []

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Sausage, mash gravy and cabbage: $6.00


Friday 18 November
Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 10.25 p.m.

Mozart was just 18 when La Finta Giardiniera (‘The Pretend Gardener’) was first seen in early 1775, though he already had a number of operas to his name. A comedy with a plot of extravagant complexity, the opera provides early evidence of Mozart’s ability to capture the more serious truths that lurk beneath a farcical surface. It has been rising in popularity in recent years. Its central character is a young noblewoman, Violante Onesti, who is disguised as a gardener and going under the name of Sandrina. She is recovering from the emotional and physical wounds inflicted on her by her former lover, Count Belfiore, who is now betrothed to the tempestuous Arminda. Lescot’s striking staging provides a contemporary take on the 18th century and the designs evoke a garden by means of plants and shrubs in large pots – notably, Arminda is symbolised by a ferociously oversized Venus Flytrap. Later, as the plot thickens, the stage is spectacularly transformed into a forest.


• Three hours of pure happiness  [La Croix]

• Wonderfully simplistic staging and direction allied with outstanding singer acting are matched in the pit.  [MusicWeb International]

• Lescot mercifully refrains from ‘clever’ gags…The characters, all clad in contemporary white costumes, and their chaotic relationships are clearly drawn…All the cast seem natural stage animals and take well to the camera… Haïm encourages playing of energy and colour from her period band and works up a fine comic lather in the act finales.  [Gramophone Magazine]

• BBC Music Magazine Opera Choice – November 2015

• The performance is immensely likeable. Emmanuelle Haïm is a splendid Mozartian. Tempos throughout are finely judged, and she draws from her orchestra idiomatic playing that encompasses variously both sensitivity and real dramatic strength… La Finta Giardiniera is a long opera that can easily outstay its welcome; that it is does no such thing here is to the credit of all concerned.  [Early Music Review]

• The mostly young cast all sing and act superbly – sometimes a little OTT, but deliberately so. Emanuelle Haïm conducts Le Concert d’Astrée with great exuberance, keeping the whole thing fizzing along.  []

• Enea Scala brilliantly conveyed Belfiore’s journey from a foppish, vainglorious figure of fun to a lover genuinely remorseful for his past mistakes, and displayed a secure, focused line in his singing. Erin Morley was an equally appealing Sandrina, with a voice of limpid clarity allied to a fine dramatic sense of her ability to transform Belfiore after their mutual moments of madness. Marie-Adeline Henry was a gloriously fiery Arminda.  [Opera]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00): Baked sweet and sour chicken, rice or noodles and peas.  Granadilla tart.


Thursday 24 November
Our Mutual Friend – Part 1
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

At the peak of his powers, Charles Dickens composed this shocking tale of murder, greed, and obsession centred on the courtship of two ravishingly beautiful, but starkly different women. Ever fond of ironic symbols, Dickens creates a world where money is made from mammoth dust heaps and from corpses fished from the Thames. Paul McGann, Anna Friel, David Morrissey, Steven Mackintosh, and Keeley Hawes star in this meticulous recreation of Dickens’s last completed novel, which many regard as his greatest.  ‘The plot has a very modern feel, using flashbacks and dislocations of time that make it perfect for film’, notes producer Catherine Wearing. ‘The mood-filled landscapes of the River Thames, the dust mountains, and a society obsessed with money dominate these extraordinary love stories.’


• Our Mutual Friend is a well plotted and directed mini-series with a great deal to offer that should keep any period drama aficionado entertained. It has comedy, drama, love, crime… Whether or not you have read the book you will enjoy this riveting and romantic production.  [Vintage Review]

• No surprise a tale of Dickens would be dark, brooding, and more than a little creepy. What is surprising is the incorporation of romantic tales within this darker work, which make for a full tapestry of human experience and emotion.  [Rotten Tomatoes]

• Our Mutual Friend, a sumptuous six-hour adaptation of Charles Dickens’ last novel, easily establishes itself among the very best of the long-form British adaptations. Visually stunning, with an opulent budget, no other series more accurately captures the feeling of Dickens’ England, from the waterfront sets to the huge ensemble cast of oddballs, scum, slime, and heroes.  [IMDb]

• I just want to put in a word for the crew that filmed, lit and designed this. It is ravishing and the attention to detail is astonishing. At almost any point you can freeze-frame the action and the result is like something you’d see in the National Gallery. Technically this is by far the best thing the BBC has done for years.  []

• The production’s generous running time enabled scriptwriter Sandy Welch to include virtually every important detail in this complex saga of how a mysterious waterfront death inextricably linked the lives of two young women, Lizzie Hexam (Keeley Hawes) and Bella Wilfer (Anna Friel). The richness of the Dickensian prose was complemented by the visuals.  [Hal Erickson, Rovi]

• At six hours, this version of Our Mutual Friend is a long production, but not a moment too long. A mystery, a love story, a critique of the pursuit of wealth and status, this is perhaps the best adaptation of Dickens ever to be committed to film.  [Simon Leake,]

Each episode runs for 90 minutes and an episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’ will act as a curtain-raiser.

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members]

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.  Spaghetti bolognaise and salad: $7.00


Friday 25 November
Bernstein conducts Brahms and Tchaikovsky
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 9.30 p.m.

Leonard Bernstein conducts Brahms’ massive Second Piano Concerto (with Krystian Zimerman as soloist) and Tchaikovsky’s epic Fifth Symphony.

• Bernstein puts everything into his conducting [of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony] and is quite unbelievable. A masterful performance by a wonderful orchestra and a sublime conductor. Highly recommended.  [Amazon review]

• Zimerman deserves 10 stars for his performance of the Second Piano Concerto. It is three in one – Passionate, Musical and Precise.  [Amazon review]

• This is piano playing of superlative finish – Zimerman delivers the notes (and I mean all of them) with amazing command.  [Gramophone]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00): Haddock pie and vegetables. Jelly and ice cream.


December (provisional)

• Thursday 1 December – Our Mutual Friend – 2

• Friday 2 December – Bellini: I Capuletti e Il Montecchi

• Thursday 8 December – Our Mutual Friend – 3

• Friday 9 December – Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel

• Thursday 15 December – Our Mutual Friend – 4

• Friday 16 December – Cinderella – ballet

• Friday 23 December – King’s Lessons and Carols

• Thursday 29 December – 50 Club Draw

• Thursday 29 December – Grand Finales

• Saturday 31 December – Dad’s Army Christmas Special / Berlin Philharmonic ‘World Encores’


October at the Academy



Thursday 6 October: Mamma Mia! – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 7 October: Rossini: Moïse et Pharaon – 6.30 p.m.
Friday 7 & Saturday 8 October: Chapatti –  Good Home Wanted – 7.00 p.m. N.B. At the Bulawayo Theatre
Thursday 13 October: The 39 Steps – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 14 October: Kiss Me, Kate – 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 20 October: Jurassic Park II – The Lost World – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 21 October: Chailly conducts Mendelssohn – 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 27 October: 50 Club Draw – 6.45 p.m.
Thursday 27 October: Child 44 – 7.00 p.m.
Friday 28 October: Offenbach: La Vie Parisienne – 6.30 p.m.


Thursday 6 October
Mamma Mia!
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.


Set on a colourful Greek island and with a plot whose main purpose is to serve as the background for a wealth of ABBA songs, Mamma Mia! needs little introduction. With a cast including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Julie Walters, it tells the story of ‘bride-to-be Sophie who is on a quest to find her father before the big day. There’s just one problem… she’s just not sure who he is. After secretly reading her mother Donna’s old diaries, she discovers he is one of three past lovers and, despite knowing her mother would not approve, she invites them all…’

  • An absolutely hilarious, rousing and joyous celebration that ought to have you dancing in the aisles.  [Pete Hammond,]
  • Mamma Mia! is a feel-good musical experience, pure and simple. The actors display a buoyant commitment to the material and the songs, of course, remain undeniable wonders.  [MTV]
  • … all the swing and sparkle of sequined bell-bottoms.  [Channel 4]
  • This film is an utterly joyous experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who enjoys musicals and/or Abba’s music.  [IMDb]
  • Cute, clean, camp fun, full of sunshine and toe tappers.  [Empire]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Beef curry, rice and tomato and onion salad: $6.00


Friday 7 October
Rossini: Moïse et Pharaon
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 10.30 p.m.

Moïse et Pharaon was Rossini’s second work for the Paris Opera and received with huge enthusiasm. One of his lesser known but most spectacular operas, it tells the familiar story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt

  • The production is traditional to the core, with sumptuous scenic design and elaborate costumes. Those who know Rossini only from his fizzy comic operas like The Barber of Seville or La Cenerentola will be blown away by this dramatic work. He could really write a historical spectacle. With fabulous sets, huge ensembles, a silly side love story, orgiastic dance sequences and cinematic sweep, this is Rossini gone Hollywood. But all the spectacle in the world can’t save a bad opera. Luckily, with the La Scala Orchestra and a cast of thousands (or so) led by Riccardo Muti, Rossini’s music lives up to the grandeur of the production. Touching duets, tuneful dance numbers and rousing choruses will keep even the most casual opera fan engaged until that Red Sea parts.  [Patrick Neas,]
  • A vivid and well-sung performance of a work that deserves greater circulation. It is very welcome and highly recommended.  [MusicWeb International]
  • I would give 10 stars if available for this great traditional production,  []
  • …an impressive staging of one of Rossini’s opera masterpieces. This production emphasises the dramatic moments of the biblical account beautifully and also demonstrates the composer‘s mastery of the French tradition: solos and choral work are superb compositions, the duets are expressive and touching. This recording brings a Rossini experience of the highest rank onto the screen.  []
  • Muti leads his forces with conviction in this 2003 La Scala production that has enough of the requisite grandeur and a cast that manages the score’s difficulties well enough to show the work’s strength and validity…The whole production gives a welcome sense of the grand style. [Ballet Review]
  • With Riccardo Muti leading a stellar cast, you can experience Moïse et Pharaon in all its uncut, grand-opera glory.  [Opera News]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00):
Classic buttermilk chicken, sautéed potatoes and vegetables. Chocolate cake.


Friday 7 & Saturday 8 October
Chapatti – Good Home Wanted
N.B. Bulawayo Theatre at 7.00 p.m. – NOT at the Academy!

This is a Reps Theatre production, a story of love lost and hope rekindled, delving into the human emotions of two people who meet by chance. Starring Mike Blackburn and Betty Hobb, the play is directed by Graham Crutchley who was responsible for the recent hit ‘The Pianist’. Word from Harare is that this is a ‘highly recommended as a piece of theatre not to be missed, with excellent feedback on the story, the set and the performances.’

Tickets: $7.00.  Booking at the Bulawayo Theatre


Thursday 13 October
The 39 Steps
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.


The year is 1914 and Richard Hannay, a mining engineer who is visiting Britain for a short time before returning to South Africa, is shocked when one of his neighbours, Colonel Scudder, bursts into his rooms one night and tells him a story that Prussian ‘sleeper’ agents are planning to assassinate a visiting foreign minister to provoke an international crisis. However, Scudder is murdered and Hannay is framed for the death by the ‘sleepers’ so flees to Scotland as he attempts to clear his name and to stop the agents …

  • …a ripping yarn with a splendid cast of British character actors, good use of locations and a spiffing climax.  [IMDb}
  • I always thought Hitchcock’s version could not be beaten but…..I was wrong. For sheer all-round excitement, good performances, excellent script and superb set pieces you need look no further.  [Amazon,]
  • For a film released in 1978, it sure zips along and is ridiculously entertaining with action scenes straight out of a modern blockbuster starting with the Lost Boys style steam train/railway bridge sequence and the James Bond style ambush with the guys with some of the most unique weaponry in film history. This all builds to the frankly mind-blowing Houses of Parliament set piece finale.  []

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.   Pasta with a bacon, tomato and cream sauce: $7.00.


Friday 14 October
Kiss Me, Kate
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 9.55 p.m.


Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Kiss Me, Kate is Cole Porter’s best-known musical and features some of his greatest songs including Another Op’nin’, Another Show, Why Can’t You Behave, Wunderbar, So In Love, I Hate Men and Too Darn Hot, not to mention Brush Up Your Shakespeare.  This London revival won the 2001 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical and the 2001 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical, and was filmed live in front of the Victoria Palace Theatre audience in August 2002. The cast includes Brent Barrett and Rachel York, veterans of the multiple award-winning North American production, as well as Colin Farrell.

  • I suspect this may be just the tonic that London’s commercial theatre desperately needs: an almost flawless revival of Cole Porter’s Shakespeare-based musical… There may be greater musicals than Kiss Me, Kate: there are few that provide such constant, time-suspending pleasure.  [The Guardian]
  • The show tops its personal best so often that, by the end, the audience floats out of the theatre on a wave of unalloyed joy.  [The Independent]
  • The whole thing is a tremendous treat from a golden era.  [The Express]
  • With its blissfully tuneful score, superbly witty lyrics and great charge of Broadway energy, this blazingly confident show shines like a beacon.  [Daily Telegraph]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00):
Pork schnitzels, stuffed potatoes and vegetables. Chocolate éclair.


Thursday 20 October
Jurassic Park II – The Lost World
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

Four years after the failure of Jurassic Park, John Hammond reveals that there was another island on which dinosaurs were bred before being transported to Isla Nublar. Left alone since the disaster, the dinosaurs have flourished, and Hammond is anxious that the world see them in their ‘natural’ environment before they are exploited. He assembles a team to visit and document the area but when they reach the island, they soon discover the presence of another group of people who are not there for biological data but instead have something more sinister in mind.

  • A remarkably underrated film that’s actually improved with age. The effects are still dazzling, the film-making is top notch… [, 26 May 2015]
  • The Lost World is a movie that takes the viewer on one of the most pleasurable rides you’re ever likely to embark upon, without insulting your intelligence in the process.  [Urban Cinefile]
  • Spielberg amply delivers the goods with The Lost World, a beautifully crafted series of nightmarish set pieces with no other goal in mind than to scare and delight the audience.  [Boxoffice Magazine]
  • Not as good as the original perhaps, but, as sequels go, it’s way, way above average.  [Empire Magazine]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.  Bacon steak, egg and chips: $7.00 


Friday 21 October
Chailly conducts Mendelssohn
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 9.30 p.m.

Riccardo Chailly’s inaugural concert as Conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra captures the full atmosphere of a unique musical occasion in a feast of Mendelssohn from the orchestra the composer founded. The concert includes an overwhelming performance of the Second Symphony, the Hymn of Praise, with its celebratory choral last movement as well as the ever-popular overture A Midsummer Night’s Dream with outstanding vocal soloists including Anne Schwanewilms and Peter Seiffert.

  •  A really wonderful recording. The orchestra responds perfectly to the conductor’s wishes.
  • Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang is done very well by the Leipzig orchestra and the Gewandhauschor under Chailly’s inspired direction. It features distinguished soloists as well as first-rate vocal and orchestral work in Chailly’s enthusiastic, glorious reading.
  • This is a tremendous performance. The orchestra and chorus have this music in their blood – and they really sound right for it.  [Amazon reviews]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00):
Beef fillet kebabs, savoury rice and vegetables. Scones with jam and cream.


Thursday 27 October
Child 44
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.


Based on the best-selling novel by Tom Rob Smith Child 44 is the story of an idealistic security officer, Leo Demidov, who decides to investigate a series of child murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union, a country where supposedly this sort of crime doesn’t exist. The state will not hear of the existence of a child murderer let alone a serial killer and Demidov is demoted and exiled but decides, with just the help of his wife, to continue pursuing the case.

  • Child 44 grows in stature and suspense as it gains focus, eventually revealing itself as a dark depiction of desperately unjust, fearful times.  [Radio Times]
  • Once it gets going, it becomes gloweringly compelling.  [Daily Telegraph]
  • Espinosa (director) manages to engineer some standout moments and Tom Hardy delivers a cruelly believable portrait of a good man trapped between a hammer and sickle.  [Sky Movies]
  • A tense thriller set in Soviet Russia in 1953…tightly directed with surprisingly good pace…fine performances, especially by Hardy, Rapace, and Oldman with exceptional dark and forbidding cinematography enhanced by understated music.  [Tolucan Times]
  • Pretty underrated film with two of the best working actors we have today: Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.  [Metacritic]
  • A brave, slow-burn of a thriller.  [Total Film]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Supper available from 6.15 p.m.  Cold meats and salad: $7.00.


Friday 28 October
Offenbach: La Vie Parisienne
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.
Carriages: 9.45 p.m.


La Vie Parisienne was Offenbach’s first full-length piece on a contemporary subject, a satirical portrayal of Parisian life in the Second Empire, and it became one of his most popular operettas.  It was conceived as an entertainment for and about the hordes of tourists visiting Paris for the 1867 Exposition Universelle but this production updates it to the present, so that instead of waiting for the train at the opening, for example, the two heroes are in the arrivals section of an international airport.

  • Director Laurent Pelly brought to the operetta all the gusto and humour the subject calls for – his staging is wild and frenzied and it’s all performed with such vigour and vaudevillian élan that it’s hard to resist the appeal.  [Presto Classical]
  • A popular hit …. It is good to see Pelly on such sparkling form. Aided and abetted by his usual high-octane team, he convincingly updates this satire on hedonistic Second Empire morals to the present day.  [Financial Times]
  • The sheer energy of the dancing and the whole spirit of irreverence is so well caught that one feels like joining in the applause. Sébastian Rouland leads the orchestra and chorus of the Lyon Opéra in a performance that is true to the spirit, if not the letter, of the work.  [Gramophone Magazine]
  • A stylish production from Lyon Opéra, the music and the libretto are allowed to speak for themselves as loud and clear as they always have done…  [BBC Music Magazine *****]
  • This is a brilliant performance of Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne. The director Laurent Pelly, orchestra and cast provide us with a superb production. The updating of the story is in excellent taste and the production positively fizzes with tremendous energy musically and dramatically.  []

Admission: $3.00 [free to Film members] 

Dinner available during the interval ($10.00):
Roast leg of lamb, roast potatoes and vegetables. Lemon cheese cake.       


November (provisional)

  • Thursday 3 November             Silver Streak (Gene Wilder)
  • Friday 4 November                   Verdi: Otello
  • Thursday 10 November           A Chorus Line
  • Friday 11 November                 A Bridge Too Far
  • Thursday 17 November           The Madness of King George
  • Friday 18 November                 Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera
  • Thursday 24 November           Our Mutual Friend – Part 1
  • Friday 25 November                 Bernstein conducts Brahms
  • Wednesday 30 November       Academy end-of-year concert

Singing Lessons!

Discover your own voice: (Anyone can learn to sing in tune…)

The Academy is pleased to announce that it is able to offer vocal lessons with immediate effect.
Please contact the Academy office(60684 / 67195) for further details.

(The Academy also offers tuition in piano, violin, flute, clarinet, recorder, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, guitar and drumming.)

Previous Festivals

The first Bulawayo Music Festival took place in April 1997 when it was conceived as a one-off, week-long multiple celebration of anniversaries: the 60th of the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra, the 40th of Performing Arts Bulawayo, the 20th of the National Symphony Orchestra – and, for good measure, the 100th of the arrival of the railway in Bulawayo. A steam safari commemorated this last with a special train transporting the musicians and audience from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls where there was a water-borne concert on the Zambezi – and no one who was there will ever forget Tasmin Little playing the Bach E major Partita to an entranced hippopotamus.

Prior to that there had been a week of concerts that had also involved among others Marilyn Hill Smith (soprano), Leslie Howard (piano), Piers Lane (piano), Donald Hunt (organ), the Odeion String Quartet and Edward Greenfield. As well as the concerts there were performer interviews, and talks on Elgar from Donald Hunt and Walton from Edward Greenfield who had known the composer well. The latter also presented a special ‘Greenfield Collection’ in Bulawayo and subsequently devoted an entire edition of his weekly radio programme to the festival.

An important aspect of that festival and all its successors was outreach to schools and young people: three hundred schoolchildren were part of the audience at the opening concert and various performances were mounted in the western suburbs including one in St.Columba’s Church where over six hundred heard Tasmin Little and Piers Lane perform.

That first festival was so successful that it inspired a second, even larger successor two years later which, like the first, included a marathon orchestral concert, this one featuring, after the overture to Idomeneo, four major concertos: Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ (Hamish Milne), Brahms’ Violin (Elizabeth Wallfisch), Chopin’s No.2 (Seta Tanyel) and Dvorak’s Cello (Colin Carr). The Odeion Quartet was in attendance again, as was Jeanette Micklem. Dame Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson gave the opening concert and there was particular pleasure in this as Graham was at school in Bulawayo and received his early musical education here before becoming the city’s most famous, though by no means only, musical export.

The third festival in April 2001 very nearly didn’t happen, indeed was at one stage cancelled, a reflection of the increasing economic difficulties in Zimbabwe. It was reduced in both length and number of performers with Leslie Howard and Nokuthula Ngwenyama (viola) joining the Odeion Quartet who generously gave their services. Even so there were four days of wonderful music culminating in an orchestral concert that was in many ways Derek Hudson’s swan-song when the slightly more manageable programme included Mozart’s Prague Symphony and E flat Sinfonia Concertante and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.

The first three festivals had been largely the work of a small committee comprising Derek Hudson, Michael Bullivant and Deborah Barron. There had been desultory talk of a 2003 festival but little in the way of plans: Derek had suffered a heart attack and never fully regained his health and Deborah had an increasingly demanding job that took her away from Bulawayo on a regular basis and finally permanently whilst the dollar plunged to ever deeper lows, funding seemed impossible and the spectre of violence grew. However, at somewhat short notice Performing Arts Bulawayo, of which Michael Bullivant had been chairman for nearly twenty-five years, determined that there should be another, out-of-sequence, festival in December 2002 to coincide with the total eclipse of the sun that would be visible from large parts of Matabeleland. It was fraught with difficulties with performers pulling out because of the country’s bad publicity and an American piano trio failing to get an anticipated grant less than two weeks before the Festival was due to start. In the event, the trio’s violinist, Rebekah Johnson, travelled at her own expense and played a major role.

Beginning with a performance of Messiah in a packed St.John’s Cathedral (over a hundred listened from outside), the Eclipse Festival ran for a week and involved musicians and performers from Britain, the United States and South Africa as well as Zimbabwe though this time there were no high-profile visitors. The eclipse was witnessed in the early morning from the top of a kopje fifty miles south of Bulawayo and there was an open-air concert in the late afternoon that particularly marked the event, including as it did ‘The sun whose rays’ from The Mikado, Finzi’s ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun’ and, for good measure, Rusalka’s Song to the Moon! This Eclipse Festival was also notable for including a theatrical evening directed by Caroline Clegg, The Spirit of Africa, a fusion of poetry, dance and largely African music.

Over three years passed as Zimbabwe descended further into chaos and for a time both hyper-inflation and the political scene seemed to make further festivals out of the question. However, with an optimism not entirely justified by its bank balance, Performing Arts determined that there should be another and aimed for June 2006: provisional bookings with musicians were made early in 2005 and a decision was finally taken late in the year that a festival would go ahead and that its scope would not merely match its predecessors but surpass them. Despite major problems and three withdrawals for various reasons (none of them connected with events in Zimbabwe), it proved possible with the generous support of the Beit Trust and MBCA Bank to bring no fewer than five musicians from Britain – Leslie Howard on his tenth visit, Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Ania Safonova (violin/viola), Matthew Sharp (cello) and Michael Brownlee Walker (piano) – and to involve many local performers too.

And not only were there twenty concerts in the main festival programme but as many more took take place as part of ‘Make It Happen’, an ‘alternative festival’ featuring more than four hundred performers which ran in tandem with the classical music and featured many other kinds of music – pop, jazz, African, gospel, mbiras and marimbas, a youth orchestra from Harare and school choirs – as well as dance, poetry and drama. All of this was in the adjacent Trade Fair arena and a gate was knocked in the wall for easy access. But it was the wall rather than the gate that won and the two halves of the festival never came together as had been hoped.

There was never any doubt that a sixth festival would follow and the two-year rhythm be resumed. Plans were laid within weeks and, although the country teetered ever closer to the abyss throughout the period and at the time of the festival appeared to be poised on the very edge as horrific violence increased prior to the run-off presidential election, music again triumphed over all circumstances with its ability, as Leonard Bernstein put it, to ‘name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable’.

There were no fewer than ten visitors, the new Odeion String Quartet from South Africa and six musicians from Britain. Again there was a last-minute withdrawal, this time because of ‘the situation’, but most of the programme was saved through the wonderful co-operation of the other musicians, most notably Jeanne-Louise Moolman of the Odeion Quartet who shouldered an immense additional load. For the first time there was no orchestra but compensation aplenty was found in an impressive list of chamber works that dominated the seventeen concerts: four quintets, six quartets, seven trios and music for two pianos in addition to the usual duo and solo recitals. Another highlight was the Zimbabwean celebration of Leslie Howard’s sixtieth birthday when there was a repeat of the Wigmore Hall concert for that event followed by a dinner at the Bulawayo Club with a specially designed birthday cake. There was also an extensive programme in the grounds and daily guitar and percussion workshops culminating in the performance of Morgan.

That performance preceded music for strings by Mozart and Leslie Howard, and the final work in 2008’s festival was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Liszt’s arrangement for two pianos. A choir of 150 included over a hundred schoolchildren, virtually none of whom could read music and there were anxious moments for Beethoven’s demands are considerable. In the event it was a triumph (the notorious 12-bar top A especially so!) and, although a little early to herald the new Zimbabwe that still remains so elusive, Beethoven’s great hymn to freedom can rarely have had greater resonance or a more appropriate setting for its enduring message:
All men shall be brothers where your gentle wings beat,
Your magic unites those whom rigid custom divides.

The London Concerts 2009

Two fund-raising concerts were held in London in April/May 2009 on behalf of the Academy and the Bulawayo Music Festival.  They were first proposed by Morgan Szymanski and Leslie Howard over lunch on the day most of the musicians flew out at the end of the last festival in 2008 as a way of making sure there would be another one.  At the time, Zimbabwe was in the grip of hyperinflation, funding was a nightmare with ticket sales generating a very small percentage of the total cost of the festival and a successor seeming improbable.

Once serious thought was given to the idea, it seemed that an appeal for the Academy might be more successful: festivals are ephemeral, they come and go, but the Academy is something permanent, a national institution serving a useful and specific purpose and more likely to elicit generous support.  It was quickly agreed with several of the musicians likely to take part that the concerts should be in aid of both the Academy and a future festival, and it was finally decided that the division of the spoils would be two-to-one in the Academy’s favour.

The next task was to find people prepared to help in both putting on the concerts and finding sponsors, and there we were remarkably fortunate.  Fiona MacDonald and Rosemary Pickering did a huge amount of the work in London to make the concerts happen.  Fiona had made two visits to Zimbabwe during which she both gave recitals and sang with the Philharmonic Chorus in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols.  Rosemary had recently retired as Chief Executive of the Young Concert Artists Trust, in which position she had sent Bulawayo many marvellous young musicians including Libor Novacek, Morgan Szymanski, Oliver Cox, Kristian Chong and Daniel Hill, and was a willing collaborator.

The other stroke of great good fortune was the assistance of Ron Sandler, now a major force in the City of London, a former Chief Executive of Lloyds of London and currently Chairman of Northern Rock, but, more to the point, he was formerly a student of the Academy where he was a contemporary of Graham Johnson.  He was (and remains) enormously supportive and secured generous sponsorship so that even before a ticket was sold, we were assured of raising a very worthwhile sum.

Of course nothing would have been possible without the generosity of the musicians taking part, 21 of them, most of whom had visited Zimbabwe at some stage, several actually born here. All gave their services completely free. In addition there were some fifty youngsters from the Young Music Makers who opened the second concert with Morgan Szymanski’s Zambezi Sarabande, the piece initially written for massed voices, guitars and marimbas at the 2008 Bulawayo Music Festival but here presented by a rather smaller and more conventional ensemble.

It was an impressive line-up. The musicians – in order alphabetical – were Wissam Boustany (flute), Michael Brownlee Walker (piano), Olly Cox (percussion), Christopher Gould (piano), Coady Green (piano), Kathryn Hannah (mezzo-soprano), Leslie Howard (piano), Graham Johnson (piano), Piers Lane (piano), Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Fiona MacDonald (mezzo-soprano), Hamish Milne (piano), Melissa Mills (flute), Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Libor Novacek (piano), Kate Royal (soprano), Matthew Sharp (cello), Morgan Szymanski (guitar), Lauren Turner (flute), Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin) and Sebastian Wybrew (piano).  Margaret Fingerhut (piano) would have made 22 but she returned from overseas engagements on the morning of the second concert feeling unwell and was ordered to bed.

The first concert in St.Peter’s Eaton Square presented the more unified programme with a major piano trio and music for flute in each half.  Wissam Boustany, partnered by Michael Brownlee began, appropriately enough for a concert with African connections, with Ian Clarke’s wonderfully evocative Orange Dawn – one can almost see the sun rising in a cloudless sky – and Mouquet’s La flûte de Pan, both works he’d played here in Bulawayo a couple of months earlier.  The two young Zimbabwean flautists Lauren Turner and Missy Mills began the second half with Daniel Luzuriaga’s Tierra, Tierra which seemed to bring the sounds of the Amazon jungle into Eaton Square in a virtuoso display before more Ian Clarke, Maya, again with Michael Brownlee Walker, brought balm in a superbly lyrical piece which deserves to become a popular favourite.  The composer was in the audience and delighted with the performances his music received.

Dame Felicity Lott was accompanied by Sebastian Wybrew since, sadly, Graham Johnson was recovering from serious illness, and ended the first half with a selection of English songs including slightly sanitised versions – after all, we were in a church! – of Lord Berners’ Red Roses and Noël Coward’s Alice is at it again, and, as well as displaying all her usual vocal virtues, she gave an object lesson in getting every word across in a resonant acoustic.  Hamish Milne opened the second part with as exhilarating a Chopin A flat Ballade as one could hope to hear and stunning performances of his favourite Medtner.

The two trios played by Benjamin Nabarro, Matthew Sharpe and Leslie Howard were an aptly contrasted pair with Beethoven at something approaching his most urbane in the Opus 70/2 Trio in E flat and Mendelssohn at his most Beethovenian in his C minor trio, both heard at the 2008 Festival.  All the charm of the Beethoven was on display whilst the Mendelssohn received as fine a performance as it is possible to imagine.  It fully deserved its unexpected encore, a short piece for violin and cello written by Leslie Howard for his mother’s 80th birthday, Phyllis’s Fancy, first heard at the final concert of the 2008 Festival and an absolute delight with its nod towards more popular musical culture!  It says something for the quality of the music-making that even after this and at the three-hour mark, the audience was still left shouting for more…

Which, of course, they got just under a week later at the Guildhall!

The programme for the second concert was rather more of a mixed bag with Morgan Szymanski following the performance of his Sarabande with Barrios’s Una Limosna por el amor de Dios, and Oliver Cox eloquent in Evelyn Glennie’s Little Prayer before the two came together in a pair of delightful waltzes by Antonio Lauro –  all music heard here in 2008.

High seriousness immediately ensued with Schumann’s rarely heard Op.107 songs although Graham Johnson’s introduction smoothly bridged the potential chasm and the songs themselves were wonderfully well sung by Kate Royal, a very fast rising young soprano who deservers every bit of her already considerable reputation.  Graham himself was still far from fully recovered and it was a more than generous gesture on his part to appear.

Contrast again with Martinu’s Czech Dances superbly played by Libor Novacek (yet again something heard in Bulawayo only a few weeks earlier) and deservedly raising smiles as well as an ovation before the first half ended with Schubert’s loveable A major Duo, Libby Wallfisch and Leslie Howard extracting all its charm and lyricism in a delightfully relaxed performance.

Piers Lane was ravishing in Chopin’s Op.posth. C sharp minor Nocturne and then rang the changes with a vengeance in a wickedly funny performance of Dudley Moore’s famous Beethoven spoof before Fiona MacDonald and Kathryn Hannah, accompanied by Christopher Gould, joined in mezzo mellifluousness in three very varied duets – Purcell’s Sound the Trumpet, the Barcarolle from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman and the Skye Boat Song.  (Incidentally Kathryn’s mother, Barbara Bodmer, spent her early years in Bulawayo and Dorothy Sibson was her godmother.)

Liszt provided the finale with three Hungarian Rhapsodies for increasing numbers of pianists.  Leslie Howard played No.13 in A minor with all the melancholy, panache and swagger for which it calls and the notorious repeated note passage brilliantly executed.  He was joined by Coady Green in Liszt’s own piano duet version of the most famous of the rhapsodies, No.2 in D minor which generated a tremendous head of steam by the end, and they were in turn joined by Piers Lane and Michael Brownlee Walker for Liszt’s only known piece for eight hands at two pianos, an arrangement of the Rákóczy March.  The spectacle in itself was entertaining, the playing terrific and no encore could have followed this barn-storming conclusion to a remarkable pair of concerts – although we hope to surpass it in the present festival!
How the money was used

After all expenses, the concerts cleared, to be precise, £33 188.23 and so the 2010 Festival started with a guaranteed £11 000.00 whilst the Academy acquired twice that amount, and that share was put to good use: All pianos in need of attention received it with new hammers, actions overhauled, etc., and all nineteen pianos are now in the best possible shape. There were extensive alterations and improvements to the kitchen so that there are now two, one for the Academy’s use and one for the coffee shop and major functions. A carport for five cars was constructed, a good second-hand car acquired, considerable work done in the grounds which probably look better than they ever have, many minor improvements made including lighting inside and out, fans, repairs to floors and much else including the acquisition of quantities of books, music and CDs for the library, 80 kilos worth of which were sent from England – and door-to-door took a exactly a week!  A fountain was installed as a direct consequence of the London Concerts as Sir Howard Davies heard of the Academy through them and made a specific donation in memory of an old family friend. Sadly it is yet to achieve its desired form but that work is currently high on the agenda.

Much remains to be done, most notably the driveways, on which a modest start has been made, and air-conditioning for the Sibson Hall. Other plans include the creation of an outside performance area in the angle between Room 25 and the rear of the hall and, mundane but just as necessary, an increased provision of ladies’ toilets. So there’s plenty of work ahead but there can be some satisfaction that, thanks in large measure to the support of many friends in Britain, the Academy has weathered the storms of recent years in pretty good shape.

2013 Diaries amd Newsletters


March at the Academy


Friday 1 March

Puccini: Il Trittico

6.30 p.m.

Thursday 7 March   

The Italian Job

7.00 p.m.

Friday 8 March    

Verdi: Attila

6.30 p.m.

Thursday 14 March  

Get Carter

7.00 p.m.

Friday 15 March    

Two Ballets by August Bournonville

6.30 p.m.

Thursday 21 March

Student Concert

5.15 p.m.


7.00 p.m.

Friday 22 March      


6.30 p.m.

Saturday 23 March     

Academy Busking

10.00 a.m.

Thursday 28 March  

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

7.00 p.m.

Friday 29 March        

Good Friday : Academy Closed


Before the details…

… a couple of other items:

  • We intend to show a film with- we hope! – wide appeal on the occasional Friday evening and move the music to Thursday evening.  Part of the idea is to attract older schoolchildren on a night when they won’t have to do homework and can stay up a bit later!  We’ll see how it works and begin this month on Friday 22 March with the new Bond film, Skyfall.  Eroica will follow the Academy Student Concert the previous evening.
  • Red Carpet Subscriptions are now due.  Details have been circulated but please ask for them if you either didn’t receive or can’t find them!  Concert subscriptions will be offered when we have some concerts to offer…
  • The Peterhouse Concert promised for March has now been postponed to next term.


Friday 1 March   Puccini: Il Trittico    
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.  Carriages: 10.15 p.m.

Il Trittico – the triptych – consists of three one-act operas, and death is central to all three!  In Il Tabarro [The Cloak] there is a murder, in Suor Angelica a dead child and in Gianni Schicchi death is the springboard for a deception and an excellent joke.  In contrast to the seriousness of the first two operas, Puccini raises the curtain on Florentine sunshine in the last and ends this thoroughly satisfying threesome with his only comedy.  This production from La Scala “brings a fairly traditional approach, and the casting does not disappoint either, with Piero Cappuccilli as the vindictive Michele in Il Tabarro, Rosalind Plowright in the title role of Suor Angelica and Juan Pons portraying the artful Gianni Schicchi.”

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members] Supper available during the interval : Stuffed roast fillet with roast potatoes, rice and cauliflower cheese; Pineapple cream cake


Thursday 7 March   The Italian Job   

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

Michael Caine turns 80 on 14 March and to celebrate a much-loved actor, there will be two very different films this month and more across the rest of the year.

The Italian Job has been described as “the greatest Brit-flick crime caper comedy of all time… Michael Caine is the hippest ex-con around, bedding the birds (several at a time) and spouting immortal one-liners (‘You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!’). The inheritor of a devious plan to steal gold bullion in the traffic-choked streets of Turin, Caine recruits a misfit team of genial underworld types including a lecherous Benny Hill as well as three plummy public-schoolboy rally drivers and uses the occasion of an England-Italy football match as cover for the heist.  In his final screen appearance, Noël Coward joyfully sends up his own patriotic persona, but The Italian Job’s real stars are the three Mini Coopers, patriotically decorated red, white and blue, that run rings round every other vehicle in an immortal car-chase sequence…”

Admission: $3.00 [free to  film members]


Friday 8 March   Verdi: Attila

Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.  Carriages: 9.30 p.m.

Verdi’s ninth opera concerns the Huns’ invasion of Italy at the end of the Roman Empire, and  Riccardo Muti conducts a fine cast in “this outstandingly dramatic performance from La Scala. It helps that the chorus takes a vital part, and the relative brevity of the piece, with one key number following promptly on another, makes a strong impact in a production with traditional costumes and atmospheric sets. Samuel Ramey in the title role and Giorgio Zancanaro as the Roman general Ezio, both at their peak, are ideally cast and Cheryl Studer is equally outstanding as Odabella.”  [Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music]

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

Supper available during the interval : Chicken with honey and soy sauce served with rice and mixed vegetables; Milk Tart


Thursdays 14 March   Get Carter   
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m

In this acclaimed 1970s British thriller, shown on his 80th birthday, Michael Caine is a hardened gangster returning to his hometown in search of the truth behind his brother’s death. Though originally from Newcastle, Jack Carter (Caine) has made his name as a tough enforcer for a London crime boss.  On hearing of his brother’s death, he returns to Newcastle for the funeral and to investigate his suspicion that his sibling may have been murdered.  After visiting a local gangster (played by John Osborne!), Carter is threatened and advised to head back to London.  He refuses and descends further and further into the city’s underworld as his investigations begin to pay off.  His search is merciless, unrelenting and fraught with danger and it becomes clear that he will stop at nothing to exact his own brand of justice…

Admission: $3.00 [free to  film members]


Friday 15 March   Two Ballets by August Bournonville: Napoli & La Sylphide 
Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.  Carriages: 10.15 p.m.

August Bournonville was a remarkable dancer and choreographer who created many ballets for the Royal Danish Ballet which regards its interpretations of these classics as being in the most faithful and pure tradition.  La Sylphide and Napoli are the best-known of his works and the former, created for the Royal Danish Ballet in 1836, is the oldest ballet to survive in the regular repertoire, a tale of love, rejection and dreadful revenge.

Napoli, by contrast, is the result of a trip to Italy made at the instigation of Bournonville’s friend Hans Christian Andersen.  He was inspired by his stay in Naples to create his happiest masterpiece which, against a colourful Italian background, tells the story of the young fisherman Gennaro and his beloved Teresina who is lost in a storm and falls prey to the sea-demon Golfo.  “The ballet has everything – plot, humour, stage tricks, fairies and realism, enjoyable sets and costumes, and a final divertissement which demonstrates superb technique in solos, pas de deux and varied groups alike.”

Admission: $3.00  [free to Red Carpet members]
Supper available during the interval : Rump steak with a red wine and mushroom sauce served with sautéed potatoes and peas; Apple crumble and custard


Thursday 21 March   Student Concert
Robert Sibson Hall at 5.15 p.m.

With the end of term approaching, the Academy’s usual Student Concert will present a wide range of performers and music including the debut of the Saturday School.

Free Admission

Thursday 21 March   Eroica

Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.

On 9 June, 1804 Beethoven and his pupil Ferdinand Ries assembled a small group of musicians to give the first performance of his Eroica Symphony for his patron Prince Lobkowitz and his guests, including the hypercritical Count Dietrichstein.  This 2003 film with Ian Hart as Beethoven is based in part on Ries’ recollections of the event and ends with a performance of  the symphony in its entirety by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]
N. B. Supper available during the interval : Sausage casserole served with rice, broccoli and gem squash; Granadilla tart

Friday 22 March   Skyfall

Robert Sibson Hall at 6.30 p.m.

The new James Bond!  When Bond’s latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked, forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Gareth Mallory, the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows aided only by a field agent, Eve, to follow a trail to the mysterious Silva whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.


  • “A full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon. 4 out of 4 stars.”  [Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times]
  • “Everyone connected with this brave, wholly successful enterprise deserves congratulation.  Whether or not it triumphs at the Oscars – and I hope it will – I don’t see how anyone can deny that this is a cracking story, very well told. There hasn’t been a more entertaining picture this year.”  [Chris Tookey, Daily Mail]

Admission: $3.00 [free to  film members]


Saturday 23 March   Academy Busking!
Zonkizizwe from 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon

Academy students, the ZAM Band and Girls’ College will provide music and entertainment throughout the morning.  There will also be a cake sale so come prepared!

Thursday 28 March    Beethoven: Missa Solemnis
Robert Sibson Hall at 7.00 p.m.  Carriages: 10.00 p.m.

“In a sense, this DVD is as much about the gala reopening of the Dresden Frauenkirche that had been totally destroyed in the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden on the night of 13 February, 1945 as it is about Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. After the bombing, the Frauenkirche stood for a day, then collapsed spontaneously and the building’s ruins lay largely untouched until 1974 when the reconstruction was begun. That effort took thirty years and the new church, built as closely as possible to architect George Bähr’s original 1743 plans, was consecrated in late October 2005, sixty years after its predecessor’s destruction. This concert took place the following week, and what could be more apt that to present Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis?- especially as Dresden gave the first performances of the work in Germany, partially in 1829, and completely in 1839.”

The programme will also include a suite from Beethoven’s ballet music, The Creatures of Prometheus and the Choral Fantasy, both conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Admission: $3.00 [free to Red Carpet members]

April – provisional as always

Thursday 4 April  | Ladies In Lavender | 7.00 p.m.
Friday 5 April | Ponchielli: La Gioconda | 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 11 April | The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Hollywood version]| 7.00 p.m.
Friday 12 April | Britten: Albert Herring | 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 18 April | Independence Day : Academy Closed
Friday 19 April | Puccini: Tosca | 6.30 p.m.
Thursday 25 April | Trade Fair : Academy Closed
Friday 26 April | Trade Fair : Academy Closed

Best wishes as always,

Michael Bullivant