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Interview: Beverley Brommert in conversation with CTO's Asisipho Petu

Cape Town Opera is presenting LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR

By: Jun. 12, 2024
Interview: Beverley Brommert in conversation with CTO's Asisipho Petu  Image
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Interview: Beverley Brommert in conversation with CTO's Asisipho Petu  Image

If honey-voiced mezzo Asisipho Petu, soon to appear in Cape Town Opera's LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, were to write her autobiography, an apt title would be "The Rise and Rise of Asisipho.” From small-town beginnings in her native Queenstown, where she and her family sang in church, Petu first spread her wings in school tours, a talented member of a winning choir; then came the heady discovery of opera in her early teens, leading to successful participation in competitions up to provincial level.
 
Following this was acceptance at Tshwane University of Technology to study for a diploma in performing arts in 2018, which saw her with a Postgraduate Diploma four years later. During a brief period of freelancing in Pretoria, her calibre was identified when suitable  participants were being recruited for inclusion in CTO's prestigious Judith Neilson Young Artists Programme, which she joined at the beginning of 2023.
 
Mentored by Professor Virginia Davids for the past 18 months, she is now ready to emerge from ensemble roles into a more prominent part in Lucia di Lammermoor.
She will portray Alisa, maid, confidante and friend to the hapless heroine of Donizetti's masterpiece. Petu is delighted by the prospect: "Vocally, the role is well within my comfort zone, and Alisa's character resonates completely with me. In this new version of the opera from Prof Gobbato, she is more than just a servant, she is Lucia's best friend. And Brittany (soprano Brittany Smith, who sings the lead as Lucia) could not be nicer or more helpful, she is so supportive. Moreover, I have fully internalised the music, which is a great help…"
 
Interpreting a role dramatically as well as meeting its vocal demands is a skill she says she's developed since joining the JNYAP. "Acting classes were not available at the TUT, so although I had acquired the basics, I still needed to work on that. Having the opportunity to be on stage with professional artists and colleagues has been amazing."
 
As a result, she is brimming with confidence ahead of opening night in mid-June. After the run of LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, her next challenge will be to deliver as understudy to Bess in PORGY AND BESS when CTO takes its production on tour to Beijing. That is a very long way from the small Eastern Cape town where she was born.
 
LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR runs at the Artscape Opera House for five performances only from 14 to 23 June 2024, with matinees at 3pm and evening shows at 7pm. The show on Sunday 16 June at 3pm is a black-tie affair officially marking CTO’s 25th birthday and will include a post-show celebration with wine, bubbles and canapés for all attendees. Tickets cost from R215 to R750, and R900 for the 16 June birthday bash. For all shows (except 16 June)  there are special discounts available for Senior Citizens. Advance booking is recommended through Webtickets and 0214217695. No Under 16’s
 
Photo credit: Allison Foat



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