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.
Magdalene Minnaar is a South African performer, director, and producer, known in the music industry as a trailblazer continuously setting new trends and challenging conventional boundaries. She has been creating innovative musical and theatrical experiences since 2001 and directed and produced her first opera in 2004 as part of the Soft Serve Arts Festival in Cape Town. After receiving her Honours degree in Music (cum laude) from the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, she was accepted into the Cape Town Opera Studio (now the Young Artist Programme), after which she was awarded a WBHO bursary for overseas studies, leading her to the New York Opera Studio. In 2010 Minnaar started Biblioteek Productions to provide a platform for artists and theatre makers to collaborate on classical music productions, where she has produced, performed in, and directed numerous operas, musical theatre works and imaginative concerts. Through Biblioteek Magdalene has commissioned a large body of new South African compositions for various ensembles, including several new operas. Magdalene has directed numerous operas and musical theatre works as well as conceptual experiences, including La bohème (Innibos Festival and Cape Town Opera’s rendition in 2021), Die Zauberflöte (Johannesburg International Mozart Festival), Bastien und Bastienne (Gauteng Opera), La voix humaine (Impac Film Festival) and Calling Us Home (Shy Music). Magdalene’s recent work as director for multiple Cape Town Opera productions, including Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and Terrence McNally’s Master Class featuring Sandra Prinsloo, has been met with great enthusiasm and critical acclaim. She currently holds the position of Artistic Director at Cape Town Opera and is also on the board of the Songmakers Guild of South Africa. Most recently, Magdalene was on the Lav Mirski International Voice Competition, hosted in Croatia in May 2023 where she also directed a production of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona.
Set and costume design
Maritha Visagie has been working behind the scenes in the theatre and film industry for almost two decades. She completed her BA Drama (Hons) degree at the University of Stellenbosch, training in stage management. After freelancing in the film and food industry for several years, she joined the Cape Town Opera team in 2005 and has not looked back since. In 2006 she was appointed Wardrobe Mistress and in 2013 became Head of Production.
Working alongside acclaimed designers, she has enjoyed honing her skills. Her freelance design work includes a vari-
ety of drama, dance and opera productions. Productions designed for Cape Town Opera include Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, The Rake’s Progress, Maria Stuarda, The Fairy Queen, Don Pasquale and Stabat Mater. Outside of her work for CTO she is a part-time event stylist, cake decorator and mother of two.
Set and Costume design
TOSCA 2023 Production Design Bio for – Leopold Senekal DRAFT 1: 169 WORDS
Leopold Senekal is an accomplished scenic designer with over two decades of experience in the Theatre, Film, and Television industries. He holds a BDRAM degree from Stellenbosch University and specialises in Scenic Design. Throughout his career, Leopold has been commissioned by various companies both nationally and internationally and worked on notable productions like “The Mysteries”, “Beggars Opera,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Anne Frank”, “Woyzeck,” and the African premiere of Rossini’s “Il Viaggio a Reims” under the direction of Matthew Wild. In 2008, he established Good Call Production Design House, now known for its dynamic and vibrant approach to scenic design and execution. Recent projects include collaborations with Jester Productions, JVR, AFDA, CT Ballet, and CT Opera. Leopold’s talent and dedication have garnered recognition, including the prestigious Fleur Du Cap Design Award for “Woyzeck” and “Aesop’s Fables”. Currently pursuing his MA, he focuses on the African Oral Traditions of Storytelling and investigating indigenous creative processes. With his versatile skills and strong reputation, Leopold continues to make significant contributions to the performing arts industry.
Hauser is an award-winning designer whose passion for lighting, his creativity, integrity, and energetic work ethic has become well known in the South African live events industry.
After achieving a diploma in Entertainment Technology in 2009, Hauser has worked on productions across a wide range of genres: Television, drama, comedy, opera, musicals, avant-garde dance, contemporary music & conceptual performance.
Hauser has designed lighting for productions at prestigious venues in Barcelona, Paris, Zurich, Berlin, Beijing, Lagos, New York and in other cities internationally.
Some of his design credits include: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Simpiwe Dana’s MOYA, Loyiso Gola’s “Unlearning” for Netflix, The South African Music Awards 2019 & 2018, Ndlovu Youth Choir Live in Concert, Gregory Maqoma’s CION, Avenue Q South Africa, Rock of Ages South Africa, Jonathan Roxmouth’s The Musicals in Concert, High School Musical (Associate designer), The Mystery of Irma Vep, Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature, Molière’s Tartuffe, The Crucible, Reza De Vet’s African Gothic, Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, Athol Fugard’s Boesman & Lena, The Coloured Museum, Percy Mtwa’s Bopha! & Marat Sade.
Fiona Du Plooy
Fiona du Plooy is a Choreographer and Movement Director whose evocative visual style, comprehensive movement vocabulary and extensive knowledge of ballet and contemporary dance has been seen in work created for both Stage and Screen, and across various Genres.
Trained at UCT School of Drama, and with an Advanced Ballet Diploma and a National Pilates Certification, she is ideally positioned to work with actors, singers, performers and dancers , and brings a significant conceptual , creative and narrative flair to any project.
Choreographic highlights include creating a water Ballet for Nicola Hanekom ‘s Award winning Betesda, whipping Not the Midnight Mass into chorus line shape, Infecting the City with Art, co -creating the movement landscape for Lara Bye ‘ s one man tour de force performance Vaslav , braving the outdoors at KKNK ‘S site specific Land Van Skedels , and movement direction of Cape Town Opera ‘s critically acclaimed 2022 production of Le Nozzo di Figaro.
International Filmwork include the highly anticipated series The Power, BBC America series The Watch, based on the Terry Prachett fantasy novel , Tomb Raider , The Giver , The Price Of Sugar, and Strange New Things.
She has designed choreography for over 50 local / international ads, including the iconic ICE ICE BABY campaign, featuring Vanilla Ice for Castle Lite, which ignited her commercial choreography career in 2009.
Winner of a Fleur De Cap Award for Best Performance in a Cabaret in 2009 for Angels On Horseback, she
has taught Movement for Actors from AMAC and CAP, to UCT ‘s Drama School and ACTCapetown.
For the past 19 years, she has owned and operated Bodies in Balance Pilates Studio in Constantia, where she focuses on rehabilitation and Pilates movement for groups and Individuals.
South African soprano Nobulumko Mngxekeza was born in Queenstown. She was introduced to music when she joined her high school choir at Kwa-Komani High. In 2001 she enrolled at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music and trained under Virginia Davids, Sidwill Hartman, Marisa Mavchio and Angelo Gobatto. In her young career she has sung a variety of roles, including Micaëla in Carmen, Bess in Porgy and Bess, Pamina in Die Zaubeflöte, Anna in Nabucco and performed in Rusalka and Il mulatto. Nobulumko has worked for Isango Ensemble where she performed in the following productions, Impempe Yomlingo (The Magic Flute), Abanxaxhi (La bohème), Aesop’s Fables and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. Nobulumko has also travelled internationally with various productions for Cape Town Opera where she was previously a studio member. Between 2014 and 2017 Nobulumko portrayed the role of Lady Macbeth in the internationally acclaimed Third World Bunfight production of Macbeth, directed by Brett Bailey and music from the Verdi opera adapted by Fabrizio Cassol. Most recently, Nobulumko performed with the LOD Muziektheater in two newly composed operas: Dominique Pauwels’s Moby Dick and Gorges Ocloo’s The Golden Stool. As of 2023, Nobulumko is an appointed Soloist with Cape Town Opera.
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.
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.
Young baritone Bongani Justice Kubheka was born in Newcastle, South Africa and studied singing at the University of Cape Town. Sponsored by Wales Millennium Centre, he continued his training in Cardiff with Dennis O’Neill and attended master classes with Kiri Te Kanawa, Della Jones, Susan Bullock, John Rawnsley and Ryland Davies. He performed with the Cardiff Sinfonietta alongside Bryn Terfel and Lezhneva at a gala of the Wales International Academy of Voice and the Wales Millennium Centre, and has appeared in Rossini’s Petit Messe solennelle in Llandeilo. He has sung in Handel’s Messiah at Jameson Hall and Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre in Cape Town and in a scenic production in Durban. In the title role in Don Pasquale he appeared at Baxter Theatre and Artscape Opera House and won the Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award for his performance.
In productions of the University and in collaboration with the Cape Town Opera he has appeared as Luther/Crespel (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Don Basilio (Il barbiere die Siviglia), Lord Sydney (Il viaggo a Reims), Grenvil (La traviata), Puppet Maker in Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco as well as in the title role in Le nozze di Figaro.
Bongani Justice Kubheka’s debuts in the 2020/21 season as Jake (Porgy and Bess) at the Theater an der Wien, in the title role in Sweeney Todd at the Staatsoper Hannover and his debut as Escamillo at Teatro La Fenice in Venice were cancelled due to COVID-19.
Bongani Justice Kubheka was finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, won the Schock Foundation Prize for Singing, the Stuart Burrows International Voice Award and the 1st prize at the ATKV Voice Competition in South Africa, 2nd prize in the “Neue Stimmen” International Singing Competition and 1st prize in the Emmerich Smola Förderpreis.
Van Wyk Venter
Van Wyk prides himself on his versatility as a musician and constantly strives to discover new avenues in music through which to express himself and entertain audiences. Having been born into a musical family, Van Wyk was encouraged to develop his musical abilities from a young age. During his time at Drakensberg Boys Choir School, he received a very diverse musical education as a soloist, chorister, and instrumentalist, and one of his most treasured achievements was being recognised as the most versatile chorister, a quality which he prioritises to this day. His high school years were spent at Michaelhouse where he started focussing his training on solo singing and stage performance. While at Michaelhouse, Van Wyk had the opportunity to perform lead roles in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. He was also invited to perform with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Naum Rousine and later again under the baton of maestro Richard Cock. After receiving the first-year music scholarship to Stellenbosch University, he started training as a baritone under lecturer Minette du Toit-Pearce and completed his BMus (Hons) Cum Laude in 2020. He furthered his stage experience by performing regularly as a soloist. These performances include the Stellenbosch University Concerto Festival and performances of Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem. His stage experience during his student years includes the role of Vicomte Cascada in Lehar’s Die Lustige Witwe, Hymen in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, Barone Dauphol in a concert version of Verdi’s La Traviata and the role of Gianni Schicchi in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Van Wyk is currently a member of the Cape Town Opera Young Artist Programme.
Lwazi Dlamini is a 27-year-old Swazi baritone who started his musical journey 13 years ago in high school. He grew up in a town called Siteki, which is situated in the Lubombo region of eSwatini with his mother, four older brothers and one older sister. He learned to love music through church as well as through his grandmother’s influence. Music has remained in the family as two of his brothers are musicians as well, albeit in the pop genre. Lwazi moved on to study Vocal Art at the Tshwane University of Technology from 2017 to 2019. In 2018 he got the opportunity to sing the lead role of The Count in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, a student production. He later also landed the role of Baron in La traviata by Verdi in the Sempre Opera production at the Joburg Theatre. Lwazi then moved to Cape Town to study at the University of Cape Town (SACM), where he completed his Advanced Diploma in Opera in 2020. He was Guglielmo in Così fan tutte by Mozart, the UCT collaboration with Cape Town Opera and was Marco in Gianni Schicchi by Puccini with SA Operatunity in November 2020. In 2021 Lwazi joined the Young Artist Programme at Cape Town Opera where he has been understudying roles of The Father in Hänsel und Gretel by Humperdinck and Zurga in The Pearl Fishers. He recently sang the role of Rambaldo in CTO’s 2021 La rondine and Schaunard in the La bohème touring production.
Roberti / Jailer
Gora Dlamini is a 25 year old aspiring and eager baritone from Meadowlands, South Africa. He got exposed to choral music at 5th grade from church, getting influence and inspiration from his conductor, Mr Thami Mdluli. In 2017 he got introduced to Opera and worked his way to finally going to school in 2020 at Tshwane University of Technology, studying Diploma in Performing Arts (Vocal Art).
His technique was drilled by his voice lecturer, Mr P. duToit, to a point that he worked hard to improve vocally and managed to get his first Opera role in 2021… as Papageno from Die Zauberflöte by Mozart. In 2022 he worked with his conductor and lecturer, Mr Thami Zungu and his peers doing various projects and healing the nation. He has done the work of Rossini Stabat Mater and The Creation Mass from Haydn.
Gora Dlamini’s aim on stage is to be able to communicate and heal a soul or two from the audience. Work ethic, drive and patience got him to work on the Le Nozze did Figaro and also Beethoven Symphony 9th. Currently working on Belcore from the L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti.
Gora is currently studying and continuing to work hard, being a team player, a follower and a leader.