Opera is alive and well and one of the most successful musical exports from South Africa to the world. So says acclaimed conductor and cellist and Classic FM radio host, Kutlwano Masote.
On Friday this week, Kutlwano will conduct South African opera soloists Kelebogile Besong and Golda Schultz, as they perform some of the best known and loved opera soprano arias at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg. Both Besong and Schultz live in Germany and this is the first time they will have the opportunity to perform for a South African audience.
“Opera is a very aspirational musical art form in South Africa. If you are a successful church choir singer from the townships, you usually end up at UCT opera school, followed by a scholarship to go and study overseas and then you work in Germany or Italy,” he said this week.
Friday’s concert in Johannesburg marks the third year that Masote and his wife Ma-Setlogelo are staging an operatic soiree in Johannesburg under their arts platform Web Maestro. Three years ago Web Maestro bought soloist Pretty Yende back to South Africa for her first performance at home and they have found an increasing appetite for opera galas of this nature.
He describes Friday night’s programme as “more of a T20 than a five day test”. With a programme consisting of some of the best-known operatic arias, he says it is an accessible highlights package of some of opera’s most beautiful pieces of music.
“Opera continues to entertain as one of the campest, most dramatic forms of classical music,” Masote says.