"Winnie the Opera" to hit S.African stage in 2011

Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:31pm EST
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African State Theater will tackle the triumphant and troubled times of the former wife of post-apartheid President Nelson Mandela in a production called "Winnie the Opera."

The opera about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, seen as the face of the African National Congress while her then husband was held for years as a political prisoner, will open next year in Pretoria, its producers said.

The opera focuses on when Madikizela-Mandela was summoned in 1997 before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body charged with investigating wrongs committed during apartheid, to probe the murder of one of her supporters.

The opera of the woman often called "the mother of the nation" will be in English and Xhosa.

"She recalls the epic journey that has brought her to this point in history," the producers said on a website for the production.

Madikizela-Mandela was acquitted of the murder Stompie Seipei but convicted of aiding in the kidnapping of the teenager. Her prison sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.

She is a member of the country's ruling African National Congress and a member of parliament. Nelson Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Paul Casciato)