Gaming technology puts South Africa opera back on track

Gaming technology puts South Africa opera back on track


norman lebrecht

July 06, 2020

Shirley Apthorp tells us from Berlin:

With Covid on the upswing in South Africa, I couldn’t see a way to work there this year – until Kobie van Rensburg saw the National Arts Festival’s call for digital proposals.

Thanks to his resourcefulness and some free online 3D gaming technology, we’re now a part of the Festival with South African tenor Siyabonga Maqungo (who lives in Berlin, having joined the ensemble of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden), the specially-formed Umculo Baroque ensemble (ie some clever local Berlin musicians), the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa, a great deal of fantasy, a gym hall down the road from my apartment in Moabit, we offer a moment of Handelian escapism from the everyday struggle for South Africans or anybody else.

Watch here.

To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever used gaming technology in opera before. The software is free. We’ve also offered two webinars as part of the Festival in the hopes that aspiring singers in South Africa can kick-start their own endeavours without the expense of a full staging.



  • RW2013 says:

    Rather like this –
    “Towering, moving digital panels create an immersive virtual world.”
    I redact my opinion…

  • Beverly Hulley says:

    Lovely — wonderful to see great talent developed in this way.