Ubuntu Opera Company launches in September


Thursday 5 September 2019 marks the birth of a ground-breaking new initiative on South Africa’s cultural scene – with the launch of Ubuntu Opera Company.

The company is mandated to create a professional platform for South African opera singers to build their careers in their home county, without having to seek work abroad.

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Juan Burgers, photo by Val Adamson
Juan Burgers, photo by Val Adamson

The new company will be spearheaded by Juan Burgers, one of this country’s most highly regarded and diversely proficient music creatives, and the force behind the unique new development venture.

Burgers, uniquely talented pianist, choral director, opera coach and voice teacher, will work with a board of directors, to produce South African indigenous operas, as well as presenting regular world operatic repertoire, with a view to creating sustainable employment in our almost defunct operatic industry. The company’s maiden production in the new year, will be its namesake opera, the Mandela-themed magnum opus, Ubuntu – The Opera, composed by Burgers himself in 2014. The work’s world premiere in 2015 drew widely affirmative critical response, most notably from Durban’s Professor Christopher Ballantine, South African correspondent for the internationally prestigious British magazine, Opera, who hailed the work as the country’s most important creative tribute to Mandela since 1994.

“Sponsorship is a core element of the operation of our new Ubuntu Opera company,” says Burgers. “It is our mission to offer a sustainable showcase for the wealth of legendary operatic talent that is part of our country’s cultural DNA.”

Ubuntu Opera Company - Arthur Swan, Charlotte Mhlongo, Linda Nteleza, Reuben Mbonambi and Thando Mjandana
Ubuntu Opera Company – Arthur Swan, Charlotte Mhlongo, Linda Nteleza, Reuben Mbonambi and Thando Mjandana

“It is our intention to provide skilled technical and artistic training while enabling our new generation of singers, who are hungry for the opportunity to put the world’s most thrilling and exalted art form into practice, and to exercise their talent before our own, South African audiences. Our country is known throughout the world for its unrivalled wealth of great voices. We have the potential to be a magnate for cultural tourism, attracting international opera-goers to our shores. Given a chance, this can and must happen! At present, our young South African singers are forced to find employment abroad or change career in order to survive. This has to change. Ubuntu Opera Company will be at the vanguard of the move to bring opera home to South Africa.”

A fund-raising concert, presented in support of Ubuntu Opera Company, will be held at Christ Church in Constantia, Cape Town, on Thursday 5 September, starting at 19h30. The programme will kick off with highlights from operas drawn from the international repertoire. The second half of the programme will be devoted to eight extracts from the acclaimed South African oper, Ubuntu, composed by Burgers in 2015.

The line-up of singers set to appear in Ubuntu Opera Company’s launch concert on 5 September will include tenors Thando Mjandana and Arthur Swan, baritone Theo Magongoma, sopranos Linda Nteleza and Charlotte Mhlongo, and impressive newcomer Reuben Mbonambi, bass. Juan Burgers will be accompanist for the event.

Tickets to Ubuntu Opera Company’s launch concert on 5 September are R120 per person, including wine or juice during the interval. Booking is through Webtickets.

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