With Operatunity, OperaVision offers a new four-part series focusing on the raw, unfiltered stories of young opera artists from different backgrounds in South Africa. In collaboration with OperaVision Partner Opera for Peace, the series tackles the real issues faced by young artists preparing to perform on the world’s opera stages.

Operatunity is the brainchild of Xolane Marman, an emerging artist and stage director from Cape Town. He follows four singers on their journeys through training, rehearsal and first roles. We have personal glimpses into off-stages lives and the challenges faced by those who come from the township areas of South Africa. The series ends in a final gala performance, where all the artists featured in the series met and sung together for the first time.

Episode 1

Bongiwe Nakani, mezzo-soprano

Originally from the Eastern Cape, mezzo-soprano Bongiwe Nakani grew up in the informal settlement of Khayelitsha, Cape Town. She started her interest in singing at the age of 7 years with the help from her older sister who used to take her to choir rehearsals and choral competitions. Having gained a Performers Diploma degree at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, she made her debut as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, in the 2013 production by the Cape Town Opera. In 2016, she joined the Ensemble at the Vienna State Opera in Austria where her roles have included Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Schwertleite in Walküre and Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera. She recently made her house debut at the Volksoper as Maria in Porgy and Bess. Bongiwe won 3rd Prize winner in the 2015 Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition, was a Finalist and Audience Prize winner at the 2016 Deborah Voight International Singing Competition and a semi-finalist at the Placido Domingo Operalia International Singing Competition held in Mexico 2016.

Episode 2

Vuyisa Xipu, tenor

Vuyisa Xipu is in his third year of Undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town, under the tutelage of Paulina Malefane. He was born and raised in Cape Town in a township called Gugulethu. He has performed as a chorus member in I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 2019. He recently performed as a soloist in Marry Me a Little. He sings regularly with Mzansi Tenors who took part in this year’s Rand Merchant Bank Starlight Classics Competition.

Episode 3

Smelo Mahlangu, baritone

Smelo Mahlangu is a bass baritone who was born and raised in Cape Town. Singing in school and church choirs kindled his passion for music and prompted Smelo to pursue his studies in music. In 2017, he joined  the Opera programme of South African College of Music (University of Cape Town). As well as being active in the College chorus, Smelo has also sang Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte in collaboration with the Cape Town Opera. In 2021, he won the First prize and an Audience prize in the Schock Foundation Singing Competition. He has followed masterclasses with, among others, the acclaimed South African soprano Phumeza Matshikiza. He is currently a young artist at the National Opera Studio in London.

Episode 4

Setsoane Ntseki, soprano

Born in Botshabelo, Free State, soprano Setsoane Jeannette Ntseki is in her first year at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. She has sung the roles of Almirena (2019) and Poppea (2021) in the Opera School's Kaleidoscope opera scenes. Setsoane was awarded 3rd and 2nd positions respectively in 2021 and 2022 Schock Singing Competitions, and 3rd place in the 2022 Aviva Pelham Operetta Competition. In October 2022, she performed with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra at Artscape in Cape Town.