The Voices of South Africa National Opera Singing Competition returns to the Hugo Lamprecht Concert Hall in Parow, Cape Town, at 15h00 on 28 July 2019. The high profile event will be preceded by a fund raising concert at the Baxter Concert Hall in Rondebosch at 19h30 on 20 July, followed by a series of masterclasses in the Baxter Theatre complex, from 21 to 27 July.
The sixth Opera Voices of South Africa project builds on the success of previous years by continuing to enable the training and nurturing of young South African musicians, particularly singers.
“By supporting local, national and international training and professional development collaborations, the organization acts as bridge between South African artists and professional music institutions and musicians, both locally and abroad,” says South African-born, London-based opera singer, Njabulo Madlala, who spearheads the Voices of South Africa project.
“For this year’s masterclasses the top 25 singers have been selected out of hundreds of hopefuls who applied. They are Thando Zwane, Katleho Maloisane, Mandisinde Mbuyazwe, Molly Dzangare, Solly Motaung, Menzi Mngoma, Litha Jali, Lunga Hallam, Stephen Schalkwyk, Sinesipho Funo, Ané Sophia Pretorius, Segomotso Shupinyaneng, Yolisa ngwexana, Leoui Rendsburg, Lekgetho Jefferson, Nkululeko Masuku, Msimelelo Mbali, Jason Atherton, Palesa Malieloa, Nombuso Ndlandla, Sakhiwe Mkosana, Lesego Mkhwanazi, Olu Yakhe, Thandiswa Mpongwana, and Aubrey Mlindi.”
The competition comes with prize money, The Nonhlanhla Makhanya Memorial Prize, donated by long-standing supporter and lover of opera, Durban-based Dr Sicelo Nkwanyana, in memory of his mother who was a teacher and worked tirelessly in the community in Inanda; and also from Diemersfontien Wines (The Diemersfontein Prize).
An interesting feature of this year’s competition is the inclusion of Durban Uber driver, Menzi Mngoma (tenor), who went viral on FaceBook recently, due to the endorsement posting of one of his appreciative clients, Ms Kim Davey. This has subsequently led to an audition with Cape Town Opera, and several engagements throughout the country.
“Forming the judging panel and leading masterclasses are: Kamal Khan, who travels from the USA, and donates his services of coaching and accompanying the singers; Dominic Wheeler, Head of Opera Department at Guildhall School of Music and Drama; opera director and singer, Kobie van Rensburg, in his capacity as director of the Umculo Incubator; opera director, Elaine Kidd, as Head of the Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House; and Jeremy Silver, conductor and Head of Opera Studies at UCT.”
“We are engaging with other opera companies and institutions of further education abroad to come on board and come to South Africa to help our talented and much deserving singers,” says Madlala
“At the end of the 10 day training period we hold a singing competition, with prize money donated by long-standing supporter and lover of opera, the Durban-based Dr. Sicelo Nkwanyana. We all know the circumstances from which some of the young singers have come, so while winning a monetary prize is not the focus, it certainly helps, and they are required to show they will use the funds towards their development. The competition is a free event open to the public, and will be held at 3pm on 28 July at Hugo Lambrechts Theatre. We are appealing to Cape Town to come, hear and support the young singers.”
20 July Fundraiser Concert at 19h30, Baxter Concert Hall.
The fund-raising concert on 20 July will feature a stellar line-up of young singers, accompanied by Kamal Khan. Featured on the performance roster are previous Voices of South Africa winners, including amongst others, Njabulo Madlala (baritone), Owen Metsileng (tenor), Bongiwe Nakani (mezzo soprano) and Makudu Senoaona (tenor). Others in the line-up are Nozuko Teto (soprano), Goitsemang Lehobye (soprano) and Sipho Fubesi (tenor).
Owen Metsileng has recently returned from participating in the Cardiff Singer of The World, where he debuted as a tenor after switching from singing as a baritone. Bongiwe Nakani is currently a house mezzo soprano at the Vienna State Opera, where her repertoire includes leading roles in operas by Mozart, Verdi and Tchaikovsky amongst others. Makudu Senoaona is a successful freelance guest artists in Europe, Britain, Canada and the United States.
Durban based Nozuko Teto has sung at English National Opera in London, and in opera houses in Italy. Goitsemang Lehobye has just completed her master’s degree in singing in Chicago, and is based there while performing across the United States. Her most recent South African visit was highlighted in Bongani Ndodana-Brean’s latest composition, Harmonia Ubuntu. Tenor Sipho Fubesi has returned to the opera stage after a break of four years as a business man in South Africa. Fubesi has sung at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera, and Manchester Royal Opera, appearing as a guest artists extensively throughout Europe. Also featured in the concert line-up are Msimelelo Mbali (bass), Pumza Mxinwa (soprano) and Anè Pretorius (mezzo soprano).
Support the Voices of South Africa project, while enjoying a beautiful evening of opera arias and ensembles by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and more. The fundraising concert on 20 July takes place at 19h30, in the Baxter Concert Hall, Rondebosch. Tickets from R100 are available online at https://www.quicket.co.za/events/76466-voices-of-south-africa-international-opera-singing-competition/#/ , or through Webtickets at selected Pick ‘n Pay outlets, or online at www.webtickets.co.za.
-Interviews and photos available on request-