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Among the performances on this opening eve of the 10th Annual Columbia Festival of the Arts is a musical commissioned by the Kennedy Center but performed only twice in this country. Expect the a cappella polyphony of South Africa’s Junction Theater to be no less affecting for the political changes in its native nation since the penning of Marabi, a love story set against the beginnings of resistance to apartheid in Johannesburg’s townships. The Festival runs through Sunday, June 28, when the first female inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin, provides its climax. Perhaps she’ll perform her quite respectable take on Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” included as a live recording on her latest single, “Here We Go Again,” where she manages to blend her classic appeal with the modern R&B palette. A host of performing, visual, and literary artists fill out the 10-day festival. Marabi is performed at 7:30 p.m. tonight, 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday at Howard Community College’s Smith Theater, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $20. Aretha Franklin performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia. $15-35. (410) 715-3055. (Daniel Searing)