A new South African opera based on the life of late civil rights icon Nelson Mandela has closed just four days after its launch.

Madiba: The African Opera premiered at the State Theatre in Pretoria last Friday (23May14), but a lack of funding has prompted the play's producer, Mandela's grandnephew Unathi Mtirara, to bring its five-day run to a premature end as he can no longer pay the actors.

All dates, including scheduled performances in Qunu and Port Elizabeth, have since been postponed while opera bosses await a decision on funding from officials at the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

Madiba: The African Opera documented Mandela's youth to his inauguration as South African President in 1994.

The highly respected leader died in December (13), aged 95.