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Cape Town Opera Announces PORGY & BESS Summer UK Tour Cast - Tsakane Maswanganyi & Xolela Sixaba Star

Cape Town Opera returns to the UK this June & July for a tour of their acclaimed Porgy and Bess, culminating in a two week run at the London Coliseum. Tsakane Maswanganyi, who previously thrilled audiences in the title role of Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall will play Bess, while Xolela Sixaba will reprise the role of Porgy having won great acclaim for his performance in 2009.

Tsakane will share the role of Bess with Sibongile Mngoma and Nonhlanhla Yende. Xolela Sixaba will alternate with Kaiser Nkosi and Otto Maidi as Porgy. The cast also includes Mandisinde Mbuyazwe, Philisa Sibeko, Nozuko Teto, Nkosazana Dimande, Arline Jaftha, Victor Ryan Robertson, Tshepo Moagi, Miranda Tini, Gloria Bosman, Aubrey Lodewyk and Owen Metsileng.

Relocated to the depression-ravaged townships of 1970’s Soweto, Cape Town Opera have made Gershwin’s classic their own, as the search for hope and happiness, amidst poverty and hardship, unfolds in a poignant tale of love and deprivation.

Porgy and Bess is one of the great icons of American music theatre, known around the world as ‘the peoples’ opera’. Written in 1935 and originally portraying the 1920s life of America’s Deep South, this compelling work contains some of the most stirring and ever-lasting songs including Summertime, I got plenty of nuttin’, It ain’t necessarily so, and I loves you Porgy.

Additionally, the company will perform the European premiere of Mandela Trilogy for two performances only at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Written by Michael Williams with music by Allan Stephenson, Mike Campbell, and Péter Louis van Dijk, it is a musical tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela which dramatises key periods of his life in different musical styles. Traditional Xhosa songs and jazz melodies are woven into a classical framework that follows Mandela from a young man in the Transkei, to revolutionary, to Robben Island prisoner and the final walk to freedom. The performances of Mandela Trilogy are produced in association with the Wales Millennium Centre and are supported by Donald Gordon.

Cape Town Opera (CTO) is the largest performing arts company in South Africa. Since its establishment in 1999, the company has been committed to the continued performance and development of opera, operetta and musical theatre in South Africa. CTO focuses on performance excellence, audience development and innovation, with the overall goal of increasing the relevance of opera as a performing art form in South Africa. In order to realise this goal, the company’s main objectives are maintaining a full and varied artistic programme of world-class standard, undertaking the training and development of young South African artists and opera practitioners and increasing access to, and appreciation of, opera among the general public in South Africa.

Cape Town Opera’s season of Porgy and Bess will be presented at the London Coliseum by Raymond Gubbay and Askonas Holt.

Xolela Sixaba was born in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. He grew up in Grahamstown, where he started singing at the age of ten, and spent four years with Abancedi's Adult Choir before joining Voices Unlimited in King William’s Town. In 1995 he became a member of CAPAB's (now Cape Town Opera) Choral Training Programme and enrolled at the UCT College of Music. He has sung the title role in Porgy and Bess for CTO in Berlin, Oslo, Edinburgh, London and Cardiff. Other roles include Joe in Showboat, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, King Hambo in Poet & Prophetess in Cape Town and Sweden, and Colline in La bohème.

Kaiser Nkosi graduated from the Pretoria Technikon Opera School, where he studied with Eric Muller. He was a founding member of the Black Tie Ensemble, a group dedicated to the development and showcasing of young performers. He furthered his studies at the University of Cape Town under the tutelage of Virginia Davids, and subsequently joined the Cape Town Opera Studio. He has sung numerous operatic roles, including Frank in Die Fledermaus, Colline in La bohème, Bogdanovitsch in The Merry Widow, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Tom in Un ballo in maschera, Brander in La Damnation de Faust, Kecal in The Bartered Bride, Roucher in Andrea Chenier and Ferrando in Il trovatore. In 2001 he was invited to attend master classes at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and became a member of their Junges Ensemble. He is well-known for his portrayal of Sarastro in William Kentridge’s production of Die Zauberflöte, having performed it in Cape Town, New York and various European cities. He has also sung Daland in Der Fliegende Holländer for NorrlandsOperan in Sweden and Crown in Porgy and Bess for Cape Town Opera at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Tsakane Maswanganyi was born in Soweto, Johannesburg and studied at the University of Pretoria with Eric Muller. She furthered her studies at the Tshwane University of Technology, where her work attracted an award from SAMRO and the Johan Botha Trophy and Bursary, and sang leading roles in Gräfin Mariza, La bohème, La finta giardiniera, Un ballo in maschera and Die Lustige Witwe. She also appeared in West Side Story in Cape Town. In 2003 Tsakane joined the UK-based group Amici which toured internationally, giving numerous high-profile concerts in the UK, Europe, USA and the Far East. With Amici, Tsakane recorded two albums with RCA Victor-Sony/BMG which reached Gold status in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Tsakane sang the role of Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall, and Bess in Porgy and Bess for Cape Town Opera at the Deutsche Opera Berlin and Den Norske Opera. In 2009 she sang the role of Irina in Lost in the Stars at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and in 2011 she created the role of Winnie Mandela in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Winnie the Opera in Pretoria.

Sibongile Mngoma graduated from the University of Cape Town under the tutelage of Angelo Gobbato and Sarita Stern, and furthered her studies at the Accademia musicale Chigiana in Sienna, Italy. She has been taught by illustrious artists such as Shirley Verrett, Mirella Freni and Jessye Norman. She has performed an array of different roles including Mimi in La bohème, Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Micaela in Carmen, Dido in Dido and Aeneus, Idamante in Idomeneo and The First Lady and Queen in Khumalo’s Princess Magogo. She sang the role of Bess in Cape Town Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess in Tel Aviv, followed by The Queen Experience at the Gelre Dome in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam. On the popular music front, she has been heard in extravaganzas like Bravo China (in collaboration with the Chinese government) and Two Nations Celebrate in London, singing for Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II.

Nonhlanhla Yende was born in Johannesburg. She started singing in church and later joined several community choirs. She received her vocal training with Thamsanqua Zungu and Lionel Mkhwanazi, and is currently working with Nellie du Toit. She has performed in several productions, such as Aida, Cavalleria Rusticana, I pagliacci, Madama Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, Princess Magogo and The Merry Widow. She had her debut as a professional soloist in 2007 with an Opera Gala with the Pro-Musica orchestra. She performed in various concerts with the Black Tie Ensemble and also worked for them as an administrative officer for four years. She joined the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Studio in 2010. Roles with Cape Town Opera have included Mércédes in Carmen, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and the Monitor in Suor Angelica, as well as a well-lauded performance as Irina in Weill’s Lost in the Stars. Nonhlanhla will sing the role of Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann in November this year.


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