From UCT to the Royal Opera House to the City Hall, that’s the path that South African tenor Sipho Fubesi has taken – and it’s been a path covered with glory, says PETA STEWART:
Fubesi is the tenor in the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s Viennese New Year’s concerts on January 5, when he will be joined by soprano Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi and on the podium Richard Cock.
Sipho Fubesi was making a career for himself in the UK when illness made him take a step back and he returned to South Africa four years ago to set up some businesses on the west coast. He never stopped singing, though, giving private recitals. Aviva Pelham, the music director of the CPO’s Heavenly Quartez 10th year anniversary concert, keeps a close eye on the singers in the city and an excellent report back from Angelo Gobbato, one of Fubesi’s teachers at UCT, made her contact him immediately when one tenor fell out of the show.
“Angelo said he was singing beautifully. He stepped in, not as a guest artist, but as one of the group of four, and sang so seamlessly. That is the sign of a real professional,” she said.
Ms Pelham has already given him another platform in her Morning Melodies at the Baxter Theatre and he has agreed to sing with the CPO and Heavenly Quartez in another concert.
Fubesi studied at UCT with Gobbato and Sarita Stern, and then went to the Royal Northern College of Music on full bursary, the only student that year, 2008, to do so. While there, he won several prizes including the Frederic Cox Award and the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Prize. Naturally he sung in many student productions – the title role in La Clemenza di Tito and Don José in Carmen, for example.
On graduation, he was engaged at the Royal Opera House to sing in the world premiere of O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness with the ROH2 company and Opera East in the Linbury Studio Theatre, and made his Covent Garden debut as Third Esquire in Parsifal. He loved working at the ROH, because it brought him into close contact with world singers such as bass Rene Pape and Canadian baritone Gerald Finley.
He also covered roles at the Glyndebourne Festival and on his return to South Africa he performed the role of Justice Mtirara in Madiba the African Opera by Sibusiso Njeza at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
Now that Sipho Fubesi is completely well, he is raring to go and says that making his return to the stage with the CPO is a pleasure.
“The CPO offers the best platform to singers and I look forward to singing with Hlengiwe – we were students together at UCT,” says Fubesi.
Together they will sing Lippen Schweigen from The Merry Widow and Brindisi from La Traviata, while both will also sing popular arias on their own. The CPO will play a selection of waltzes, marches and polkas from The Blue Danube to The Radetsky March by all the composers who you expect – Strauss father and son, Lehar, Rossini and Verdi.
What: CPO Viennese New Year’s concerts with Richard Cock, Sipho Fubesi and Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi
Where: Cape Town City Hall on January 5 2019 at 3pm and 7pm
Book: Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695