Operalia competition comes to Cape Town

Tenor Luvo Maranti is taking part in Placido Domingo’s Operalia 2023.

Placido Domingo’s Operalia 2023 kicks off at Artscape Opera House on Monday October 30.

Alvaro Domingo, vice-president of Operalia, says an important drawcard of the opera competition is that five of the 34 successful applicants from a total of 800 are from South Africa and all studied at Opera UCT.

They are Nombulelo Yende (soprano) who is currently living in Frankfurt, Siphokazi Molteno (mezzo soprano) living in New York, Thando Mjandana (tenor) in London, Sakhiwe Mkosana (baritone) in Frankfurt and Luvo Maranti (tenor) who lives in Rosebank and is the only South African based in Cape Town at present.

The successful contestants come from 15 countries including South Africa, the US, UK, Germany, France, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Israel, South Korea, Malta, Russia and the Ukraine; the jurors are mainly leading casting directors of opera houses in Europe and the US as well as CTO’s artistic director Magdalene Minnaar and the coaches are based in America.

The competition was founded in 1993 and has helped establish the careers of many singers like Pretty Yende, Levy Sekgapane and Metropolitan Opera star Sonya Yoncheva.

Each year Operalia is hosted in a different city and this year Cape Town joins the world’s cultural capitals such as London, Paris, Madrid, Hamburg, Tokyo and Milan as a host city.

“In making the decision where to host the 30th anniversary competition, we took into account that South Africa has an international reputation for the quality of its singers such as previous Operalia winners Pretty Yende and Levy Sekgapane, the reputation and quality of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), the body of work of Cape Town Opera (CTO) and the versatility of the venue within the Artscape Theatre Centre, plus, needless to say the inherent beauty of the city of course. When we discussed the details with the CPO’s CEO Louis Heyneman, we got his buy-in immediately since he sensed how important a distinguished competition such as Operalia, the foremost such competition in the world, would be to reinforce the city as an international cultural force,” says Domingo.

The competition, with total prize money of more than $200 000 (about R4 052 000), presents a platform to promote Cape Town as a tourist and cultural destination. The hosts provide the orchestra, the venue, logistical support, and accommodation and catering for the competitors, jurors and a small administrative team.

Booking for the preliminary rounds and finals is through Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 4217695 or Computicket. The two quarter finals on Monday October 30 and Tuesday October 31 at 3pm and 2pm respectively and the semi-finals on Wednesday November 1 at 4pm are R400. Tickets for the final round on Sunday November 5 are R1500. The award ceremony takes place immediately after the judges’ deliberations when the final candidate has sung.

The final round of the competition will be livestreamed by medici.tv free of charge; the semi-finals will be streamed on the Operalia Facebook page.