Cape Town Opera’s (CTO) special birthday next year promises to be much more than a coming-of-age event. This intrepid company, its loyal and supportive members and patrons, past and present, will celebrate its achievements and the outstanding manner in which it has grappled with change and transformation over the past two decades. Today, opera stands at the heart of cultural life in Cape Town and CTO is proudly representative of this country and its people.

The 2020 Cape Town Opera Season will include five central repertoire masterpieces and one new commission, showcasing a wide range of South African operatic stars – many of whom are enjoying major international careers, and who will be making overdue returns to the opera stage of their home country.

The season kicks off with Cape Town Opera Artistic Director Matthew Wild’s production of La Bohème, which premiered at the opera’s co-producing partners Konzert Theater Bern in Switzerland in 2018.  An emotionally hard-hitting look at art, aging and the mistakes of youth, the production will showcase the Cape Town debut of Eva Marton, Competition -winning tenor, Galeano Salas, alongside returning South Africans, Sarah-Jane Brandon, William Berger and Thesele Kemane, and features unexpected contributions from much-loved Cape Town singers Aviva Pelham and Brad Liebl.

In celebration of Beethoven250 and Human Rights Day, they will present Fidelio in Concert, with star soprano, Johanni van Oostrum, making her role debut as Leonore. Jeremy Silver conducts, Christine Crouse directs and the production will feature a newly commissioned linking narration by Standard Bank Young Artist, Amy Jeptha.

March will also bring a long overdue return to the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Series, for a Duet Endowment Trust Gala starring internationally celebrated soprano, Pumeza Matshikiza, supported by popular tenor, Sipho Fubesi, the CTO Young Artists and Chorus, and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra – a not-be-to-missed once-off opportunity to hear great singing in one of Cape Town’s most spectacular settings.

It will be a busy year for the opera Young Artists, including the much-admired soprano Brittany Smith and mezzo Ané Pretorius, who will feature strongly in principal roles in the three remaining productions of the year. With the University of Cape Town, opera will stage Benjamin Britten’s church parable, Curlew River, paired with a new chamber opera commission written by Sibusiso Njeza and Asanda Chuma Sopotela, as well as mounting a new Così fan tutte, reuniting the brilliant team responsible for 2019’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Steven Stead, Michael Mitchell, Kobus Rossouw and Jeremy Silver).

Leading up to Christmas time, talented director Alessandro Talevi will return to South Africa to stage a wild and wonderful new Hänsel und Gretel, with Brittany Smith and Ané Pretorius as the eponymous siblings, and with mezzo Jenni Bank returning from the US to take on the double role of their mother and the wicked witch.

As always, the award-winning CTO Chorus (under the expert direction of Marvin Kernelle) will be at the heart of activities in 2020 – including a richly varied international programme of new productions in prestigious houses in Europe and beyond.