Peter and the Wolf as seen through the eyes of Evita Bezuidenhout performed with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Carlo Ponti on 13 November 2016
Sayibona, dumela, molo, kunjane, hello — and to our British and American guests here today: salaam. And to all our young people in the audience, here is a new hashtag, an eternal hashtag: #MusicWon’tFall.
My grandchildren are very excited about me being here today. The last time I narrated Peter and The Wolf was many years ago, when the story was adapted to reflect then-President PW Botha and the political ups and downs of the time: Pieter en die Wolf!
My grandchildren were not yet born. They are born-frees. Where are my black grandchildren? …. they’re not black, they’re not white — they are Barack Obama Beige (Not Donald Trump Rust!) They asked: was I going to focus the story today on President Jacob Zuma and his political ups and downs, ins and outs? Jacob and the Wolves? Of course not. As a member of the ANC, I may not make such jokes.
So my grandchildren have decided that because this is an occasion to celebrate youth and music, they would adapt the story of Peter and the Wolf to show optimism and hope — that in among all the ups and downs of our beautiful country’s politics, there is a Peter who will help to solve the problems.
Russian composer Serge Prokofiev wrote this beautiful music, Maestro Carlo Ponti is conducting the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra here in the Cape Town City Hall and I will be the narrator. Oh, and by the way, I am Evita Bezuidenhout, ek is Evita Bezuidenhout, ich bin Evita Bezuidenhout.
Before we start our good story let the orchestra show you that each character in this tale is portrayed by a different instrument:
the Bird by the Flute
the Duck by the Oboe
the Cat by the Clarinet
the Grandfather by the Bassoon
the Wolf by the Three Horns
Peter by the Strings
the Hunters and their Rifleshots by the Kettle Drum and the Big Drum
Is everybody ready? Nou goed, Maestro Ponti? Per favour…
The Narration Starts
Early one African morning young Peter opened the security gate and went out into the veld.
On a branch of a big thorn tree sat Thuli the little bird, Peter’s friend. “All is quiet,” chirped Thuli gaily.
Just then an old duck called Nkosozana came waddling round. She was glad that Peter had not closed the security gate and decided maybe to take a nice swim in the new firepool.
Seeing the old duck, Thuli the little bird flew down upon the grass, settled next to her and shrugged her shoulders.
“Wena? What kind of bird are you, if you can’t fly?” she asked.
To this Nkosazana replied: “Aikona, what kind of bird are you, if you can’t swim?” And dived into the firepool
They argued robustly, the old duck swimming in the pool, the little bird hopping along the edge.
Suddenly something caught Peter’s attention. He noticed Mama Winnie, the black cat, crawling through the tall grass.
Mama Winnie thought: “Hau, that Thuli-bird is always arguing. This time I’ll capture her!” Stealthily she crept towards the little bird on her Botox’d paws.
“Oppas! Look out!” shouted Peter and Thuli immediately flew up into the tree …
… while old Nkosozana quacked angrily at the black cat …
… safely from the middle of the firepool.
Mama Winnie stalked around the tree and thought: “Is it worth climbing up so high? By the time I get there, that Thuli-bird will have flown away…”
Now Tata, Peter’s grandfather, came out. He was angry because Peter had gone into the veld. “It is a dangerous place. If the wolf should come out of the Saxonwoods, then what would you do?”
Peter paid no attention to his Tata’s words. Young comrades like him are not afraid of shebeen wolves.
But wise old Tata took Peter by the hand, locked the security gate and led him home.
No sooner had Peter gone than a big grey Gupta wolf came out of the Saxonwood.
In a twinkling Mama Winnie miaowed and climbed up the tree.
Nkosozana the duck quacked and in her excitement jumped out of the firepool.
But no matter how hard the old duck tried to run … she couldn’t escape the clever wolf … he was getting nearer … and nearer … catching up with her …
… and then he captured her, and with one gulp of curry powder, swallowed her!
(Liewe aarde, this is more exciting than a David Attenborough documentary and Game of Thrones!)
So now, this is how things stand: Mama Winnie the cat was sitting on one branch …
… Thuli the bird on the another … not too close to the black cat …
… while the Gupta wolf stalked round and round the tree, looking at them with greedy eyes.
In the meantime, Peter, without the slightest fear, stood behind the closed security gate watching all that was going on.
He ran home, got a strong NPA rope and climbed up the high stone security wall.
One of the branches of the thorn tree round which the Gupta wolf was walking stretched out over the wall.
Grabbing hold of the branch …
… Peter lightly climbed over into the tree.
Peter said to the little bird: “Thuli, be my protector. Fly down and circle round the Gupta wolf’s head; only take care that he doesn’t capture you too!”
Thuli almost touched the Gupta wolf’s head with her wings, while the wolf snapped angrily at her from this side and that.
How little Thuli did worry the wolf; how he wanted to catch her. But that little bird was cleverer — and the Gupta wolf simply couldn’t do anything about it.
Meanwhile Peter made a noose with his NPA rope and carefully letting it down …
… caught the Gupta wolf by the tail and pulled with all his might.
Feeling himself caught, the wolf began to jump wildly trying to get loose!
But Peter tied the other end of the rope to the tree …
… and the Gupta wolf’s jumping only made the rope round his tail tighter.
Just then the hunters in their red berets came out of the Saxonwoods…
…following the Gupta wolf’s trail and shooting at everything and anyone as they went.
But Peter, sitting in the tree, shouted: “Juju, don’t shoot! Thuli and I have caught the Gupta wolf! Now help us take him to the Supreme Court.”
Imagine the triumphant procession …
… Peter at the head.
After him, the hunters in their red berets, leading the Gupta wolf…
… and winding up the procession, dear old Tata and Mama Winnie the cat. She miaowed “Amandla” but Tata shook his head. “Awetu. But if our Peter hadn’t caught the Gupta wolf? What then?”
Above them flew Thuli chirping merrily: “My, what brave comrades we are, Peter and I! Look what we have caught!”
And if one would listen very carefully, you could hear Nkosozana the old duck quacking inside the Gupta wolf’s tummy, because the wolf, in his hurry to add the curry powder, had swallowed her … alive!