Opera could easily be the most misunderstood art in South Africa; always viewed as foreign. This category celebrates the “pioneers” who ventured into this art form to give it the recognition it deserves within our society.
Pretty Yende graduated cum laude from the South African College of Music and also graduated from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala, in Milan, Italy. She won first prize at the Vincenzo Bellini International Competition in 2010. In 2011, Yende won first prize at Operalia, The World Opera Competition. In 2012, she sang the role of Musetta in Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera La bohème at La Scala in Milan. Yende made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York City, New York in 2013, in the role of Adèle in Gioachino Rossini's 1828 opera Le comte Ory. Yende was conferred the silver Order of Ikhamanga on 27 April 2013.
Elza van den Heeve
Elza van den Heever, originally from South Africa, began her career as an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera Center in 2005. In June 2007 she made her mainstage debut with the San Francisco Opera as Donna Anna in Mozart´s Don Giovanni. She returned to that company to create the role of Mary Custis Lee for the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Appomattox and to sing the First Lady in Mozart’s Zauberflöte and the Lady in Waiting in Verdi’s Macbeth. In January 2008, van den Heever made her European debut as Giorgetta in Puccini´s Tabarro at Oper Frankfurt.
Pumeza Matshikiza is hailed by critics as a star in the making, and has come a long way from the townships of South Africa. She's one of today's most exciting new operatic voices: a generous lyric soprano with a distinctive blend of dedication to detail, sense of humour and a sheer, radiant love for music. She had many student roles when studying at the RCM, has participated in masterclasses with some of the world’s most accomplished opera singers, has performed in many operas including the title role of Zaide with the Classical Opera Company, and is the recipient of numerous awards.