The concert is billed as the art of beautiful singing where Yende will be joined by another award-winning South African rising star of opera in Levy Sekgapane. The two will sing arias and duets from bel canto operas by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti accompanied by the 50-musician strong Chamber Orchestra of Johannesburg, conducted by Kutlwano Masote.
“I’m excited to be working with Pretty Yende again after our successful adventure in 2013 and I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into this wonderful music. Tenor Levy Sekgapane is already making all the right noises in Europe and he will no doubt win over Joburg audiences on his South African opera gala debut. I really couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate my 10 years as a conductor,” said Masote.
The concert is made possible by the financial support of WIPHOLD, in association with Motseng Investment Holdings. Interestingly, both organisations are black female-owned. Gloria Serobe, a co-founder of WIPHOLD, said: “In so many ways, Pretty Yende’s journey resonates with WIPHOLD’s vision of the economic empowerment of black women. From humble beginnings in a small Mpumalanga town, through hard work and tenacity, she has scaled magnificent heights. She is a national treasure.”
This was echoed by Ipeleng Mkhari, founder and CEO of Motseng Investment Holdings, who feels that “the opportunity to co-host such a sterling talent was a natural choice for Motseng, as we consistently aim to recognise potential and honour greatness.”
Yende first rose to international prominence in 2009, when she was awarded the top prizes in all categories of the Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna, Austria. She has since gone on to win a further six international competitions, including Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in Moscow in 2009.
Her musical journey has been a fairy tale beginning in the unlikely town of Piet Retief in Mpumalanga to conquering the glamorous opera stages of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Milan’s La Scalla (where she was an artist-in–residence for four years) and the Paris Opera. She has shared the stage with some of the best names in the business like Andrea Bocelli, Juan Diego Florez and Placido Domingo.
Levy Sekgapane is a 25-year-old tenor who hails from Kroonstad, Free State. He is a double-major BMus graduate (piano and voice) of the University of Cape Town. Like Yende, Sekgapane is a Belvedere Singing Competition winner.
He also won SA’s biggest music competition, the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship (2015), the Mimi Coertse Singing Competition (2013) as well as first prize at the Montseratt Caballe International Singing Competition (2015). He is a tenor who is very comfortable in the bel canto medium and promises to enchant audiences with, among others, the spectacular aria Ah! mes amis quell jour de fête from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera The Daughter of the Regiment, famous for its nine top Cs!
Bookings for this operatic spectacle are open at Computicket, with tickets ranging from R250-R400.