Dominant culture, Afrikaner nationalism and Cromwell Everson's "Klutaimnestra"

In November 1967, a four act opera, "Klutaimnestra," by the South African composer Cromwell Everson (1925-1991) was premiered in Worcester, a rural Western Cape town situated northeast of Cape Town. "Klutaimnestra," the first full-length staged Afrikaans opera in South Africa, with the libretto and music composed by a South African, represents a milestone achievement in South African art music. In "Klutaimnestra," Everson retained models of Ancient Greek characters and aspects essential to Greek history. Drawing on his own background - the Afrikaner heritage of his mother - Everson's dramatic setting was transformed into an opera that spoke directly to those who identified with Afrikaner national consciousness. This article explores "Klutaimnestra's" portrayal of the relationship between British colonialism and Afrikaner nationalism with specific reference to the Anglo-Boer War as expressed within the opera's libretto and musical setting. The article will also show Everson's (failed) attempt to configure himself as a full-blooded Afrikaner for the purposes of capitalizing on career advancement and new arts funding opportunities. Christopher Ballantine's (1984) notions surrounding the meaning of quotation in music will frame discussions of Everson's inclusion and use of musical signifiers drawn from Afrikaans public culture.

Journal South African Music Studies
Year 2012
Volume 32
Pages 1-20

Brukman, Jeffrey (2012) Dominant culture, Afrikaner nationalism and Cromwell Everson's "Klutaimnestra". In: South African Music Studies, Vol. 32, pp. 1-20. Available at


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