CityLife Arts

Opera Star Pumeza Matshikiza coming home for two recitals in Joburg and Durban

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

Any classical music fan of note in South Africa must have heard of Pumeza Matshikiza and her legendary musical exploits in far away lands, where she has an incredible following as an opera singer.

Several such fans must be craving for that one day when they will watch one of the country’s most prominent musical talents in action back home in South Africa.

Unfortunately such talent, especially in the classical music genre, are far and few in between in South Africa. It does howver not mean that the country has not produced such in high art. The fact of the matter is they are mainly based overseas, wher they get an opportunity to work and earn a living. For a long time, way back before the complications introduced into the performance scene by the current restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic was even an issue, classical musicians struggled to get opportunities to perform on stage in South Africa.

If there is any music genre that seems to be continuously elude sponsorship or funding at a large extent, it is the classical music genre. I am talking about both public and corporate sponsorship, a pity though because this music genre tends to attract the moneyed nand may, I add the cultured lot. We are not even talking about the middle class here, with limited disposable income, but high net individuals with some cash to spare on a classical music ticket. This makes one wonder what is it that seems to eluded the necessary sponsorship for such a beautiful music genre whose fans are those whose ears are refined for a refined music genre, such as classical music.

In short, the lack of opportunities for classical music talent in the country due to indifference by those who control the purse strings for funding and sponsorship, is the reason why we do not get to enjoy the performances of such exceptional home talent in classical music, such as Pumeza, who have to entertain others in such places as Milan, Frankfurt, Paris, Los Angeles and London, instead of us back home.

It is against this background and context that many a classical music lover will be excited to know that eventually, Pumeza, the widely travelled soprano is coming back home for two recitals. Yes, for two recitals, one in Johannesburg ands the other one in Durban.

Pumeza Matshikiza

The international opera star has confirmed that she will be presenting the two solo concerts on 2 November 2021 at the Roodepoort Theatre in Johannesburg and on 7 November 2021 at St. Thomas Anglican Church in Durban.

Speaking from Europe, where she is based, Pumeza  expressed excitement about the upcoming performances.

“I’m looking forward to singing my concert repertoire in South Africa, my home. Durban is my favourite city and Johannesburg has my heart.”

Asked what her audiences should expect in her first South African performances since 2017 the lyric soprano excitedly shared that she will deliver a repertoire including a selection of opera arias and

traditional South African songs that she has performed on global concert stages including Burg Theater (Vienna), Sala Cecilia Meireles (Rio de Janeiro) and Kirstenbosch Gardens in Europe and the Americas.

Pumeza  is signed to Decca Classics and is regarded as one of today’s leading opera stars globally. So far she has released two albums: her debut album Voice of Hope, featuring arias and traditional and popular African songs, and Arias,  which features a selection of operatic arias and songs from her current repertoire. From time to time, Pumeza forays into the popular music genre and she has shared the stage with international chart-topping acts such as Josh Groban and Rolando Villazon.

The two-night-only concert will be a treat for South African music lovers who’ve been deprived of

live music because of the pandemic. Pumeza will be accompanied by acclaimed pianist Paul Ferreira.

I am personally looking forward to this concert, especially because like many others who love classical music, I have not had a chance to attend any of her recitals, and get to hear and see up close and personal what this opera singer is made of.

But for now, we can only rely on critics’ impression of her overseas, who are full of praises for this homegeown talent.

International reviews on Pumeza Matshikiza:

“With her luscious lyric voice and her superb presence and acting, she will certainly be a star,” says BBC Music Magazine.

“Her voice is smooth, rich, flexible, her manner open and unaffected, her dramatic instinct keen,” says Financial Times.

“Matshikiza sang gorgeously . . . the distinctive beauty of a special voice,” says The Sunday Times.

“Dusky, overtone-rich, abundantly sensuous, the timbre has fullness, freshness and purity alloyed to the darker tones of an almost-Callas like palette,”says  Opera Magazine.

Surely all these critics cannot be wrong when it comes to Pumeza’s talent.

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