How singers rise from South African townships to world fame

How singers rise from South African townships to world fame


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2023

 With Operatunity,  Slippedisc and OperaVision offers a four-part focus on the raw, unfiltered stories of young opera artists from different backgrounds in South Africa. In collaboration with  Opera for Peace, the series tackles the real issues faced by young artists preparing to perform on the world’s opera stages.

Operatunity is the brainchild of Xolane Marman, an emerging artist and stage director from Cape Town. He follows four singers on their journeys through training, rehearsal and first roles. We have personal glimpses into off-stages lives and the challenges faced by those who come from the township areas of South Africa. The series ends in a final gala performance, where all the artists featured in the series met and sung together for the first time.

Episode 1. Bongiwe Nakani, mezzo-soprano

Originally from the Eastern Cape, mezzo-soprano Bongiwe Nakani grew up in the informal settlement of Khayelitsha, Cape Town. She started her interest in singing at the age of 7 years with the help from her older sister who used to take her to choir rehearsals and choral competitions. Having gained a Performers Diploma degree at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, she made her debut as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, in the 2013 production by the Cape Town Opera. She is currently singing in the Ensemble at the Vienna State Opera in Austria where her roles include Suzuki from Madama Butterfly, Schwerlite from Walküre and Ulrica from Un ballo in maschera. She recently made her house debut at the Volksoper as Maria in Porgy and Bess. Bongiwe won 3rd Prize winner in the 2015 Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition, was a Finalist and Audience Prize winner at the 2016 Deborah Voight International Singing Competition and a semi-finalist at the Placido Domingo Operalia International Singing Competition held in Mexico 2016.

Available on Monday 6th February 2023 at 1800 CET  / 1700 London  / 1200   NY