A ONE-NIGHT ONLY CONCERT OF OPERA
On Sunday, 24 May 2020 opera lovers will be able to attend a Concert of Opera at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria featuring the Italian lyric soprano Anna Bordignon. 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 Italian soprano Anna Bordignon, who made her debut in 2010 as Countess Stasi in the Hungarian operetta Die Csárdásfürstin (The Gypsy Princess). Not only does she have a degree in voice from the Vicenza Conservatory in Italy, but she has also won numerous singing competitions in Italy. At the beginning of 2019, she appeared alongside Placido Domingo in Verdi’s opera La Traviata at the Muscat Royal Opera House in Oman, where she performed the role of Annina, Violetta’s maid. Her most recent performance was that of Micaëla, a village maiden, in Bizet’s opera Carmen at the Teatro Pergolesi in Italy during December 2019. Bordignon’s repertoire includes amongst others Gianatta in L’elisir d’amore, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Musetta in La Boheme, Liu in Turandot, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.
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.
Anna Bordignon Soprano Verona Italy
Stefan Louw Tenor South Africa
Phuti Matuba Baritone Pretoria South Africa
Johan du Toit Tenor Pretoria South Africa
Paul Ferreira Pianist Pretoria South Africa