Opera in South Africa
Did you know?
In 2009, South African opera singer Pretty Yende won all the main prizes in the prestigious International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition.
Opera in South Africa is brought to life by a young, talented and passionate group of singers, musicians and conductors, while local composers continue to be inspired by our icons and stories, creating new works for local and international audiences.
Over the last decade, the Black Tie Ensemble has done much to popularise opera. This talented group of opera stars impressed audiences across the globe and at home, combining the best of classical opera with a rich African sounds.
Cape Town Opera, which has drawn many of its singers from the University of Cape Town's progressive opera programme, has also made its mark with soloists and choruses playing to audiences across Europe, in the United States and Australia.
The international opera world sat up and took notice in 2004 as history was made with the first African version of Georges Bizet's Carmen. Titled U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, this poignant opera was set in a modern-day South African township and was performed in Xhosa. The award-winning opera combined music from the original opera with traditional African music, and starred two South African Opera stars, Andiswa Kedama and Pauline Malefane.
One of the most outstanding stars in South African opera is Sibongile Khumalo, while sopranos like Elza van den Heever and baritones such as Njabulo Madladla, Abel Moeng and Kaiser Nskosi have launched promising careers on world stages.
Another South African-born rising star is soprano Pretty Yende, also a graduate of UCT, who sang the role of Musetta in Puccini's La bohème at La Scala in Milan in 2012 and debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in January 2013. She has won several singing prizes across Europe.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
South Africa's major theatres, including the State Theatre in Pretoria and the Baxter in Cape Town, stage opera.
Best time to visit
Check theatre programmes for details of opera performance schedules.
What will it cost
Opera tickets in South Africa cost between R300 and R600.
What to eat
Theatres in South Africa generally have bars and restaurants on site.