What have you been up to since you left the Academy in 2022?
I was excited to get a very special first engagement immediately after graduating. I played Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with Ensemble OrQuesta. They specialise in Baroque opera, which is an area I am particularly interested in.
A couple of months after that, I was fortunate to get a scholarship to join the International Opera Workshop in Waiblingen. It is a week-long programme run by Thomas Hampson, alongside Melanie Diener and Vlad Iftinca, and it was such a fantastic opportunity to work with these inspirational professionals.
I’ve been focused on finding my way in the industry. I spent time applying for various young artist programmes and studios, as well as attending a few competitions in Spain and Italy. One particularly special moment for me was a masterclass with Anne Sofie von Otter at the Royal Swedish Opera. I learnt so much from her!
Then most recently, I joined the Judith Neilson Young Artist Programme at Cape Town Opera in summer 2023.
Tell me more about the process for joining Cape Town Opera.
I came across an opportunity from Cape Town Opera saying that they were going to open their Young Artist Programme to international singers for the first time. Although I already knew about the company, it really caught my attention at the International Opera Awards at Teatro Real in 2022, where their Foundation Studio was awarded the Equal Opportunities & Impact prize.
I’d never considered going somewhere so far away, but Cape Town Opera seemed like an inspiring team to be a part of. I decided there wasn’t anything to lose so I sent in my application. I was ecstatic when I was offered the job!
I love that there are two women at the top of the company, Magdalene Minnaar (Artistic Director) and Lize Thomas (Head of Judith Neilson Young Artist Programme and Artistic Manager). They were so helpful and answered any questions I had about Cape Town and the programme. The visa process was the hardest part of the whole thing. I eventually started in June 2023 and so I’ve been here about six months now.
How have your first six months been?
It’s such a warm, beautiful and friendly place to be. When I first started, I managed to catch their rehearsals for Tosca. I loved that I was able to start out by watching and learning, rather than immediately having to perform on stage. I then enjoyed my first engagement, the alto solo in Mozart’s Requiem in a special danced production, followed by Flora Bervoix in Verdi’s La traviata.
Everyone has been so encouraging. It’s shown me how important it is to have a good to team to rely on, especially in an industry where things can be stressful.
You have worked in a few different countries now. Have you found there has been much difference?
I’ve been surprised by how similar everything is between countries, in a good way. Even though South Africa and Europe are physically so far apart, we all make opera in a similar way and the way the team works was a very familiar experience too.
There are some small differences which vary. For example, in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons tend to run from January to December rather than from September as they do in Europe. Obviously, the actual country you are in changes, the people, landscape…and of course the weather!
What does the Academy mean to you?
I carry the training I received at the Academy with me every day. The teachers and mentors I had all helped build me to who I am today, both on a personal level and as a musician. A few to mention are Kathleen Livingstone, Iain Ledingham, Yvonne Howard, Caitlin Hulcup, Raymond Connell, Brenda Hurley, David Antrobus and all our language coaches.
One of the highlights of my time at the Academy came at the end of my undergraduate degree. I was lucky to perform in one of the Bach Cantatas, which were run by Iain Ledingham. At the time, it was one of the biggest engagements I’d had to prepare for. I remember seeing the Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood in the audience and my parents were there as well to support me. It was a very special way to end the first cycle of my first studies at the Academy, and I think it helped to open other doors.
What is coming up next for you at Cape Town Opera?
The first production we’ll be doing in the new season is a double bill of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica. I’m very excited to be playing La suora Zelatrice in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicchi, which is a role I also played at the Academy.
Then there is a lot happening later in the year as well. They are bringing a one act opera festival to Cape Town Opera for the first time, where I’ll be embodying Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. Lastly, I’ll be performing Alisa in a production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor that we’ll be touring in Cape Town and Johannesburg, amongst other concerts and events.
In the longer term, I definitely want to keep a relationship with Cape Town Opera. This is probably the best relationship I could have curated as my first professional one. I love travelling and learning about different places, so it’s my dream to keep doing this all over the world.