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Three University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Opera music students- Ms Slindokuhle Zondo, Ms Magret Nesi Mfayela and Ms Bulelwa Msane- will star in the musical theatre production of UQOMISA ILIBA at UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy (OSCA) Jubilee Hall on 24 February at 18:00pm and 25 February at 15:00pm.

Sing Africa Trust, in partnership with the National Department of Arts and Culture stages the African Opera which was composed in isiZulu by Qinisela Sibisi and was adapted from the late M.A Blose’s isiZulu Novel, UQOMISA MINA NJE, UQOMISA ILIBA.

The production will showcase the idea of love and how different kinds of love are intertwined.

Executive producer and CEO of Sing Africa, Ms Siphokazi Ngovela says, ‘We are excited to be working with UKZN’s Opera students that are the lead characters in the production. We are doing certain excerpts of the novel. The intention is to stage the full opera in September to mark heritage month celebrations. And by then, we are looking at affording UKZN’s Music Department a chance to include this work next year as part of their syllabi.’

Zondo, a lecturer at OSCA and a soprano plays the character of Nontombi, who she feels epitomises the modern day African woman. ‘It feels great to be a part of this production. Although the novel takes place during a historical time, it still speaks to the challenges that women face currently. It is full of history and we feel a sense of pride to be part of this. The production can be seen as the Zulu version of Romeo and Juliet.’

The students spent many long hours rehearsing and perfecting their scenes and are confident that the production will be a hit. They will return to the stage for the full version of UQOMISA ILIBA in September with more dynamic characters and a bigger cast.

Umlazi born Mfayela, a first year student in Opera studies, who also plays Nontombi added, ‘This is my first time being a 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 so much more exciting. It is a dream come true and is the start to our careers.’

Msane, a second year student in Opera studies, who plays Simangele, sees this as an opportunity to excel in their chosen careers. ‘You need to have passion for Opera in order to make it. This is everything we’ve been working towards and it’s greater motivation to continue to work hard.’

The students plan on excelling internationally 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 make a success of their budding music careers and act as mentors to them,’ said Mfayela.

Their advice to other music students is to have ambition, have a positive attitude and commit to the ability to be the music.

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Newcastle Community Radio – NCR broadcasts from Madadeni in Newcastle, KZN with its target audience 70% Zulu, 20% English and 10% Afrikaans and programming made up of 70% talk and 30% music.

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