A ONE-NIGHT ONLY CONCERT OF OPERA
On Sunday, 25 October 2020 opera lovers will be able to attend a Concert of Opera at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria featuring the Spanish soprano Verónica Tello. She will be joined on stage by internationally acclaimed spinto tenor Stéfan Louw, and two local singers – the lyric tenor Johann du Toit, and lyric baritone Phuti Matuba. Paul Ferreira, one of South Africa’s leading opera accompanists, will accompany them on the piano.
The first Concert of Opera was held in 2014 at the University of Pretoria’s Aula Theatre and has been an annual institution since. In May 2019 it was once again staged at the Atterbury Theatre, with enthusiastic approval from the full-house audience. This one-show-only concert is organised and funded by Francois Visser, a medical doctor with a passion for opera. “South Africa has a magnificent talent pool of opera singers,” says Visser. “And so few opportunities exist for all of them to perform. Through Concert of Opera, my goal is to create a platform for aspiring singers to appear alongside master singers with international experience.”
One such veteran is the Pretoria-born tenor Stéfan Louw, who made his debut in 1998 to great acclaim. His debut role, Beppe in Leoncavallo’s opera I Pagliacci, earned him the prestigious FNB Vita Opera Award for Most Promising Newcomer in Opera. By 2005 the Sunday Times newspaper reported that “his voice should be declared a national treasure.” In 2008 he performed his first dramatic tenor role as Radames in Verdi’s opera Aida – opening in Johannesburg, then as his European debut in Vichy, France. During his European opera tour in 2017, he sang 240 performances in seven months. Louw’s 22-year opera career has seen him perform in all major South African cities, Namibia, Mozambique, the United States of America, and Europe. He has produced two opera albums, Reflections and Lyrico, and his third album Spinto will be released soon.
Joining Louw on stage is the Spanish soprano Verònica Tella, who started her musical career with David Mason. She continued her training in Italy where she perfected herself with the great Sopran Mirella Freni during 2011 to 2012. She also trained with the greats, such as: Montserrat Cabalĺe, Giacomo Aragall, Bonaldo Giaiotti, Carlos Chausson, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Raina Kavinbaska and Fiorenza Cedolins. During 2010 she did a workshop on stage selected by Giancarlo del Monaco (stage director) where she studied and interpretations the role of Cio-Cio San from Madame Butterfly. In June 2016, she sang in a Gala with Katia Ricciarelli, at Teatro il Maggiore di Verbania, Intra, Italy where she could perfect the role of Liu in Turandot. She sang for the general Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon in the ceremony of the honor Medal in Spain in 2016 at Carlos III university. She made her debut of Dido in 2010 from Dido & Eneas by purcell at the Salmanaca’s Ancient music university auditorium. Amongst her roles are Medée by Charpentier, Messiah by Handel, Giorgietta in Puccini’s II Tabarro, Tilda from La Tilda’s a Cilea’s opera and Micaela from Carmen Bizet. In August 2017 she sang in la Traviata, the roles of Anina and Flora at the international classic music festival at Villanueva de los Infantes. In May 2018 she performed the role of Lui in Puccini’s Turandot and in the summer of 2018 she performed at the 64° Festival Puccini at the Torre del lago theatre. She has also won numerous singing competitions in Italy and Barcelona. In September 2015 she dubuted the role of Mimi in la Boheme with the international opera studio Gijoin in Spain at the Jouvellanos theatre. March and November 2016 she was on tour around Spain with the Opera and Ballet national., Her most recent performance was that of Mimi in la Boheme in May 2019 in Madrid at Palacio de los Duques de Pastrana and in December 2019 Tello performed the role in Theatro Real for a private event. Tello is currently preparing for the Beethoven Symphony for the 1st of May and Verdi’s Requiem on the 4th of June 2020 for upcoming debuts.
A favourite with Pretoria audiences is local tenor Johann du Toit. He started his opera career in 1998 when he joined the Pretoria State Theatre Opera Chorus for the two one-act operas Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci. In 1999 he released his first album Sonder Jou (Without You) with Nicholas Louw. His second album, ‘n Huldeblyk aan Gé Korsten (A Tribute to Gé Korsten) was released in 2002. Joining du Toit and the other singers is the young baritone Phuti Matuba, who made his operatic debut in 2018 as Marullo in Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. The singers will be accompanied on piano by Paul Ferreira, who is arguably one of South Africa’s best opera accompanists. With a Performers Licentiate in Vocal Accompaniment from UNISA, Ferreira is a freelance artist who also teaches music and piano at a private school in Pretoria.
Verónica Tello – Soprano from Spain
Stefan Louw – Tenor from South Africa
Phuti Matuba – Baritone from Pretoria, South Africa
Johan du Toit – Tenor from Pretoria, South Africa
Paul Ferreira – Pianist from Pretoria South Africa