Three Opera music students – Ms Slindokuhle Zondo, Ms Magret Nesi Mfayela and Ms Bulelwa Msane – starred in the musical theatre production of UQOMISA ILIBA at UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy (OSCA).
Sing Africa Trust, in partnership with the National Department of Arts and Culture, staged the opera composed in isiZulu by Qinisela Sibisi and adapted from the late MA Blose’s novel, UQOMISA MINA NJE, UQOMISA ILIBA.
The production showcases the idea of love and how different kinds of love are intertwined.
Executive producer and CEO of Sing Africa Ms Siphokazi Ngovela said: ‘We are excited to be working with UKZN’s Opera students who are the lead characters in the production. We are doing certain excerpts from the novel. The intention is to stage the full opera in September to mark Heritage Month celebrations. We are looking at giving UKZN’s Music Department an opportunity to include this work next year as part of their syllabi.’
Zondo plays the role of Nontombi, who she feels epitomises the modern day African woman. ‘It feels great to be a part of this production,’ said Zondo. ‘Although set in historical times, it still speaks to the challenges that women face currently. The production can be seen as the Zulu version of Romeo and Juliet.’
Umlazi-born Mfayela, a first year student in Opera studies, who also played Nontombi, said: ‘This is the first time I have been part of a musical production and it really is a learning experience. I started singing in choirs but this is so much more work and far more exciting. It is a dream come true and is the start of our careers.’
Msane, a second year student in Opera studies who played Simangele, said: ‘You need to have passion for Opera in order to make it. This is everything we’ve been working towards and motivates us to continue to work hard.’
The students plan on performing overseas and eventually returning to South Africa to give back to their communities. ‘You can see that music as a career choice is starting to get recognition in the communities we come from and we plan to help the youth succeed in their music careers and act as mentors to them,’ said Mfayela.