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From Township to opera diva

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From Township to opera diva

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Pumeza Matshikiza has come a long way from the townships of South Africa.

Today, the soprano is part of one of Europe’s foremost opera houses, the Stuttgart State Opera, and has performed at London’s Royal Opera House.

She is currently recording her debut album in London’s famous Abbey Road Studios.

“The album is actually a reflection of my journey from South Africa – from the townships of Cape Town – to the opera world in Europe. But we have decided, with the producer, to put in South African songs – and a few arias – but as a South African and with mostly the South African influence, we put more of the South African songs, especially because this was a new project, we were trying new arrangements with the Aurora Orchestra,” says Pumeza Matshikiza.

The artist says it is this hardship and struggle faced by her countrymen and women under apartheid which inspired her music.

“Even when I was young I knew that this environment was absolutely crazy – as a child I didn’t really feel safe, I always felt that something was missing, something was not OK with the way we lived. I went to school here at Homba Public Primary School, teachers were passionated about music. Of course they teach under very difficult circumstances but they kind of kept us going,” she says.

“There’s also songs (in the album) which were inspired by the apartheid era, like (speaks in Xhosa,) which means ‘They Are All Sitting in Prison’. And we have also ‘Tool Ababa’, which is a beautiful, beautiful lullaby. But the orchestra has given the whole project something beautiful, it’s fresh, fresh music.”

Featuring the African Children’s Choir and new arrangements of Paul Simon’s “Homeless” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, Pumeza Matshikiza’s debut album is due out next spring.

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