German-Polish conductor Adam Szmidt has been acclaimed as vibrant, passionate, and profound. He is the designated Resident Conductor and Head Vocal Coach at Cape Town Opera. Recent engagements include the opera houses of Heidelberg, Halberstadt, Schwerin, and Bonn.
Adam Szmidt made his debut conducting the Northern Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in one of the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, the Smetana Hall in Prague. He has since conducted orchestras such as Rhein-Main-Philhamoniker, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Pomeriggi Musicali Milano, National Radio Orchestra Bukarest, Nuernberger Symphoniker, The New Haifa Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestra Constanta, Bad Reichenhaller Philharmonie, Savaria Symphony Orchestra Hungary, Westboehmisches Symphonieorchester Bad Marienbad and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Succeeding Gregor Mayrhofer as Principal Conductor, he led the German National Academic Foundation Orchestra North Rhine-Westphalia in the season 2017/18.
Mr. Szmidt studied orchestra and choral conducting at the University of Performing Arts Graz, Austria, under Johannes Prinz and Wolfgang Doerner and at the Conservatory of Music and Performing Arts in Nuremberg under Prof. Guido Rumstadt, assisting him with the production “Drei Wasserspiele” at Stadttheater Fuerth. His studies were supported by The German National Academic Foundation, the Alfred Toepfer Foundation and the DAAD. He participated in master classes with Neeme Jarvi, Paavo Jarvi, Leonid Grin, Ben Zander, Nicolas Pasquet, and Jorma Panula.
In Papua New Guinea, Mr. Szmidt performed at the National Education Conference and for the President during his civil service. He continued this engagement by working with music programs for social change in Colombia, Brazil, and India. As pianist, Adam Szmidt was a laureate of the Stuttgarter Matthaes-Wettbewerb and the National German Youth Competition.
Beyond having conducted and performed on all six continents, Mr. Szmidt also dedicates himself to teaching: In 2018 and 2019, he gave master classes for conductors and singers in Edmonton, Canada, and at the South African Universities of Stellenbosch and Potchefstroom. Mr. Szmidt has conducted world-premieres like the Musical Shadows in Red Light in Cape Town or the Piano Concerto op. 44 by Matthias Hutter. In 2022/23, he will lead his 3rd international music academy as Artistic Director in Germany, and pursue further engagements, also featuring an international co-created project for sustainability and innovation, called EcoOpera.
Elisabeth Manduell was born in London and moved to South Africa in 2006 where she pursued her love of singing. She studied Opera Performance at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town under the tutelage of Hanna van Schalkwyk Niekerk and was involved in many productions there as an Assistant Director and Stage Manager. Elisabeth also had the fortunate experience of performing Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the International Lyric Academy in Vicenza, Italy.
In 2019, Elisabeth’s journey then moved to Cape Town Opera where she became an Assistant Producer and took on other various roles such as Company Manager and Resident Director, which sent her to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Luxembourg.
She has since assisted some of South Africa’s most eminent directors, including Matthew Wild, Alessandro Talevi, Steven Stead, Magdalene Minnaar and more in their various productions with Cape Town Opera, including Die Zauberflöte (2016/17), Mandela Trilogy (2018), African Passion (2019), La Boheme (2020), Porgy & Bess (2020), Cosi fan tutte (2020), and Hänsel und Gretel (2021), La Boheme (2021), La Rondine (2021), Bon Appetit (2022), Le Nozze di Figaro (2022), L’elisir d’amore (2022), and Master Class (2023). From 2021 to 2023 she has also had the opportunity to direct several shows such as The Pearl Fishers (2021), various versions of Opera Blocks, as well as her first e-learning programme, Conduct Like A Pro.
Michael Mitchell’s work has been showcased throughout South Africa and internationally at Wales Millennium Centre, the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Lyric Theatre in Brisbane, Ravenna Festival in Italy, the Dubai Opera House and at the Hong Kong Festival. Opera designs include La traviata, Postcard from Morocco, Madama Butterfly, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, Der Rosenkavalier, Nabucco, The Magic Flute, La rondine, Le nozze di Figaro, Fidelio on Robben Island, Andrea Chénier, The Pearl Fishers, Porgy and Bess, Mandela Trilogy, Lost in the Stars, Otello, Don Giovanni, Salome, Mi(SA), I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Così fan tutte. He recently designed the set for Pieter Toerien’s production of The Producers and is the recipient of many awards, including FNB Vita and Fleur du Cap awards and a Naledi Award for Mandela Trilogy in 2011.
Michael has received critical acclaim for his design of Lost in the Stars, which was produced at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2012 and Washington National Opera in 2016. His design of Porgy and Bess has been seen at The London Coliseum, Wiesbaden, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at the Asia Culture Centre in Gwangju.
Shakil Solanki (b. 1997) was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2019, and is currently based in Cape Town, practising as an artist, working primarily within the mediums of painting and printmaking. Since 2018, he has taken part in several group shows- both locally and internationally, including two solo presentations with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery, as well as a show at Everard Read Cape Town. Recent collaborations include the set design of Cape Town Opera’s production of Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, and a residency at Twee Jonge Gezellen wine farm in Tulbagh. His international art fairs include Also Known As Africa (AKAA) Paris, 1.54 London, and Investec Cape Town Art Fair.
Solanki interrogates dynamics of queer intimacy, using the space of a secret garden to explore dualities of tenderness, desire and violence. His experiences as an Indian man remain central to his practice, with classical Eastern art standing as a prominent source of inspiration. This vernacular is repurposed, encompassing homoerotic dialogues to evoke lush, dreamlike lands, which remain both romantic and discomforting at once. The trope of a secret garden is used as a liminal space, where contrasting emotions of trauma and longing exist hand-in-hand with moments of stillness, using the theme of intimacy as a point of convergence to explore its many dynamics, evoked within many nocturnal shades of blue. In tandem, he presents contemplations on the conditions of the diasporic South Asian queer individual; building subversive mythologies, regal identities, and poignant celebrations.
Nadir - Guest ARTIST
The South-African tenor Levy Sekgapane studied under Kamal Khan and Hanna van Niekerk at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town. After winning 1st prize at the International Belvedere singing competition, the Monserrat Caballé singing competition in 2015 as well as Placido Domingo’s Operalia in 2017, he became known in the international opera scene.
Highlights of his career include his debuts at Glyndebourne Festival as Conte d’Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and as Arbace in Idomeneo at Salzburg Festival in 2019 as well as a Rossini Gala at Arena di Verona in 2020. He took part in the exciting world premiere of The time of our singing, based on the novel of the same name by Richard Powers – music by Kris Defoort, staged by Ted Huffman – at Brussels La Monnaie in 2021, where he sang the role of Jonah. Furthermore, he gave his American debut at Los Angeles Opera with La Cenerentola as Don Ramiro.
Last year marked his house debuts at Zurich Opera with Cecilia Bartoli in L’italiana in Algeri and at the Wiener Staatsoper with Il Barbiere di Siviglia as Conte d’Almaviva. Together with Cecilia Bartoli, Placido Domingo, Rolando Villazon, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Edgardo Rocha under the baton of Gianluca Capuano he sang in a Rossini Gala concert, as part of Cecilia Bartoli’s debut at the Wiener Staatsoper. Last season he also returned to Deutsche Oper Berlin after seven years to give his role debut as Idreno in Semiramide.
Further engagements led him to major opera houses, like National Opera Paris, Liceu Barcelona, Bavarian State Opera Munich, State Opera Hamburg, Royal Opera Copenhagen, and Santiago di Chile, where he gave his South America debut.
In 2019, his first solo CD with Rossini arias was released by Prima Classic – recorded with the Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti.
South African tenor Lukhanyo Moyake was a member of the Wiener Staatsoper ensemble in 2018/19, where he sang in numerous roles including Ismael in Nabucco, Arturo in Lucia di lammermoor, Naraboth in Salome.
Lukhanyo Moyake was a member of the Cape Town Opera Young Artist Programme in 2010, where he has performed in numerous leading roles. In Cape Town he has performed the roles of Alfredo in La Traviata, Jaquino in Fidelio, Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Leicester in Maria Stuarda, Camille de Rosillon in The Merry Widow, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, and Narraboth in Salome.
During the 2017-18 season he made his debut with English National Opera performing Alfredo in a new production of La traviata directed by Daniel Kramer and also sang the Steuermann in a new production Der fliegende Holländer with Cape Town Opera directed by Matthew Wild. He also made his debut as Don Jose in Braunschweig Staatstheater. As a soloist, he sang with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s A White House Cantata conducted by Wayne Marshall. In the 2016-17 season he made an important house and role debut as Don José in Carmen at Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, took the stage as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and made his role debut as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto with Cape Town Opera in a new Marthinus Basson production. He also appeared in a Gala concert with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern alongside soprano Siobhan Stagg. In the 2014-15 season he celebrated two important house debuts in Spain, singing the role of Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess at Teatro Real in Madrid and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in a production by Cape Town Opera.
Lukhanyo graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, followed by post-graduate studies at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town. Mr. Moyake won 3rd prize in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in 2015 in Gütersloh, Germany, and was a finalist in the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, held in Amsterdam in 2015 and in Cape Town in 2016. In 2016 he also won the Emmerich Smola Förderpreis of the SWR in Landau, Germany. Furthermore, he represented South Africa in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2017. Alongside his career in opera, the tenor regularly appears in concerts, recitals and oratorios.
First introduced to opera in her tenth year of schooling, Brittany Smith holds a BMus in Opera from the South African College of Music (SACM) at the University of Cape Town, which she achieved under the tutelage of Professor Virginia Davids. She started her singing career at university in the chorus of UCT SACM’s Don Giovanni and Il viaggio a reims productions. Her debut solo singing role was as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro in 2016, followed by Adele in AGL Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus.
Brittany’s awards include the 2013 Ruth Ormond Prize for the Most Promising First Year UCT Female Opera Student, the 2016 Schock Foundation Opera Competition Female Classical Winner, and a nomination for the 2017 Fleur du Cap Award for Best Female Opera Singer for her role as Pamina in Cape Town Opera’s (CTO) production of The Magic Flute. Brittany joined the company’s Young Artist Programme in 2018 and premiered as Norina in the CTO/SACM production of Don Pasquale. In May 2019, she sang the role of Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi and in 2020 Despina in Così fan tutte. In 2021 she performed the role of Gretel in CTO’s Hansel und Gretel where she was nominated for a Fleur du Cap Award, the role of Leila in CTO’s The Pearl Fishers and Magda in CTO’s La rondine. Since becoming a Cape Town Opera soloist, Brittany has performed the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro as well as Adina in the touring production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.
She recently made it to the 2022 Mail and Guardian top 200 young South Africans. Brittany was awarded the Artes Award for her contribution to the entertainment industry for the category classical music. Most recently, Brittany was awarded Best Performance in an Opera – Female at the 58th Fleur du Cap Awards for her portrayal of Susanna in CTO’s 2022 production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
Bass-baritone Conroy Scott started his musical training at an early age in the New Apostolic Church, where he learnt to play all recorders, piano, flute and clarinet. Conroy furthered his studies at the University of Cape Town’s Opera School, took up the double bass, studying under the late Zoltan Kovats. He regularly plays as an ad-hoc player with all major South African orchestras, teaches both double bass and voice. Conroy has done vocal master classes and voice lessons across the whole of South Africa, has performed all over the world, and participated in numerous competitions and master classes.
In 2017 he returned from Spain after 6 years performing the beloved Sounds of Motown with the critically acclaimed group Soul Avenue. His operatic repertoire covers an array of roles, including the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Germont in La traviata, Doctor Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and Lescaut in Massenet’s Manon. In 2018 his close friend and mentor the late George Stevens invited him to perform the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in a collaborative production of the UCT Opera School and Cape Town Opera, a role which he repeated at last year’s Suidoosterfees. He was part of the original cast of the musical Calling Me Home performing the world premiere in Johannesburg and a subsequent run in Cape Town. His portrayal of Ivan earned him a Fleur de Cap nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.
Conroy has appeared as bass soloist in oratorios such as Mozart’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, for which he received the Woordtrofees (2018) for best classical vocal performance, Verdi’s Requiem at the 2019 Woordfees. Most recently, Conroy’s portrayal of the title role in Cape Town Opera’s 2022 production of Le nozze di Figaro earned him a Fleur du Cap Award for Best Performance in an Opera – Male.
In 2023, Conroy was appointed one of Cape Town Opera’s Soloists.
The prospect of a bright future is writ large for the gifted young South African opera singer, Reuben Mbonambi, who recently completed his National Diploma in Opera at Cape Town University Opera School. The young bass has further benefited by becoming a protégé of the distinguished South African pedagogue, Juan Burgers, whose tutelage has seen a succession of fresh talent finding success on the international opera circuit. Now celebrating his first appearances abroad, Mbonambi was chosen to compete internationally at the 40th Belvedere Singing Competition, being held in Latvia between 4 and 11 June 2022, where he won third prize.
Raised in Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, Mbonambi completed a B. Tech in Business Management before enrolling with UCT Opera School. Throughout his development, he has performed as bass soloist with many choirs nationally. In 2018 he sang the role of Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera in Mamre. In September 2019 he made his orchestral debut with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Lykele Temmingh. In 2020 he won several prizes in the International Voices of South Africa Competition, including first prize for the African Section.
During Easter of 2021 he sang in St. George’s Cathedral in their first online broadcast of St. Mark Passion by Charles Wood, performing the role of Christ. Last June he sang the role of The Vicar in Benjamin Britten’s sacred opera Curlew River, a joint production of UCT Opera School and Cape Town Opera, which won him a Fleur du Cap Opera Award nomination. He recently performed the bass solo in Haydn’s Nelson Mass over Easter at St. George’s Cathedral. Reuben Mbonambi continues to perform regularly in recital where his diverse repertoire is amply displayed. He is currently a member of Cape Town Opera’s Judith Neilson Young Artist programme where he will debut in the role of Nourabad from Bizet’s opera ‘The Pearl Fishers’ and in August 2023 he will join the Antwerp Opera Company in Belgium.