BY BILLY SUTER
A SHINING light of the local opera world, soprano Sibongile Mngoma, will perform arias, duets and choruses from the world’s most beautiful operas at March concerts in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Also on the bill is Sandile Mabaso, who began his musical training at the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, under the direction of Christian Ashley-Botha.
They will be joined by The Vusisizwe Choral Society from KwaNdengezi, Pinetown, and will be accompanied by Midlands pianist, Lara Kirsten.
Performances will be at the Pinetown Methodist Church at 7pm on March 18 and at Pietermaritzburg’s Tatham Art Gallery at 3pm on March 19. Tickets cost R110 each (R90 concessions.)
Mngoma, who started her opera training in 1993, at the South African College of Music, under the tutelage and mentorship of Professor Angelo Gobbato and Sarita Stern, will sing arias from Puccini’s La Boheme and Tosca.
Mabaso, who from 2006 to 2007 was a member of the Cape Town Opera Vocal Ensemble – with whom he toured to Germany, France and Sweden in the productions of Showboat and Porgy and Bess – will sing from Massenet’s Manon and Donizzeti’s L’elisir d’Amour.
The Vusisizwe Choral Society will perform opera choruses from Don Pasquale and Cosi fan Tutti.
Mngoma has had the opportunity to further her musical studies at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienn, Italy, where she did a specialist course for advanced singers.
She has been taught by some of the world’s premier opera divas – among them Shirley Verritt (America), Mirella Freni (Italy) and Jessye Norman (America).
The work with Norman was part of the prize for being the runner-up in the Rolex Mentor/Protégé Programme for 2004. In 2015, Mngoma sang the role of Winnie Mandela in the world premiere of Sibusiso Njeza’s production of Madiba An African Opera, at the State Theatre.
In 2012, she featured in the critically acclaimed tour of Porgy and Bess (singing the role of Bess) in the UK.
Other opera roles include Zandile in Temming’s Enoch Prophet of God, First Boy in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Clara and more recently Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme, Zerlina and later Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Countess Almavira in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Michaela in Bizet’s Carmen.
Mngoma has sung in light musicals such as Woza! A Celebration of South African Musicals (which was her brainchild), Nkosi the Healing Song, Johnny Cockroach, Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert and Rodger’s and Hammerstein in Concert.
She has sung at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Concert hall in London, as well as opera houses in Bari and Milan in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Cannes, Munich, Rome and all major opera houses and venues in South Africa.
The 2014 recipient of the Mbokodo Award for Opera, Mngoma recently recorded a DVD of her production Opera meets Jazz, which received standing ovations from audiences abroad and here at home.
Young Mabaso obtained his Bachelor of Music from the University of Pretoria in 2006. While a student he sang the roles of Tamino in The Magic Flute (Mozart) andAlfredo in Die Fledermaus (Strauss).
He had his first professional engagement in 2006, singing the role of Inkos’ Mathole in Opera Africa’s touring production of Princess Magogo (Khumalo). He toured South Africa and The Netherlands with this production.
In 2009 he began studying with Werner Nel and was selected to participate in The International Baroque Symposium, held at the North West University, under the leadership of Kobie van Rensburg.
In 2010 he sung the role of Acis in Acis and Galatea (Handel), also under the direction of Kobie van Rensburg. In 2012 he has sung the role of Puck in The Fairy Queen (Purcell) for Umculo Cape Festival.
In 2013 he was a finalist in the Mimi Coertse Singing Competition, and in 2014 he made his solo debut with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Two years ago, he toured a programme of Baroque music with harpsichordist Andrew Cruickshank, along South Africa’s Garden Route.