Described as “one of today’s most exciting new operatic voices” (Independent), South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza is one of today’s rising opera stars. Being an exclusive Decca Classics recording artist, she already released two albums: her debut album “Voice of Hope”, featuring arias and traditional and popular African songs, and “Arias” with a selection of operatic arias and songs from her current repertoire.
Pumeza Matshikiza kicks off 20/21 season, making house and two role debuts as Bess and Serena in a new production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Theater an der Wien. Besides that, she gives special New Year concerts with the Salzburg Philharmonic Orchestra, singing famous opera arias and excerpts from Astor Piazzolla’s tango-opera Maria de Buenos Aires. The soprano can also be heard in a gala concert alongside Rolando Villazón at Sopot Classic Festival and in a solo recital at West Wicklow Festival Ireland.
Highlights of the recent seasons do include especially the title role of Antonin Dvořák’s Rusalka. The role of the little mermaid has quickly become one of the signature roles of the South African soprano. After her acclaimed debut with Theater Klagenfurt in 2018, the part was vehicle of taking Pumeza Matshikiza to two other exciting new productions in the 19/20 season: at the Opera National du Rhin she headlined the production of Nicola Raab, with Anthony Hermus conducting. It was her first opera production in Strasbourg after her solo recital, given there 2 years ago. The second production took the soprano to the Vlaanderen Opera, making her house debut in the new production by Norwegian choreographer Alan Lucien Øyen. The visionary concept added another intense layer to Dvorak’s music by expressing the emotions danced by doubles of the protagonists. The production was recorded and shown on Operavision’s website. In 18/19 season Pumeza Matshikiza made her US debut performing one of her signature roles, Mimì, in Puccini’s La Bohème, with Dallas Opera. Mimì was also vehicle to her house debuts at Dresden’s famous Semperoper and the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. Pumeza Matshikiza made another exciting house and role debut as Eve in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. The highly acclaimed production was staged by one of the most renowned contemporary opera directors – Robert Carsen, and libretto written by famous British dramatist Ian Burton. As a five-year ensemble member of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, Pumeza Matshikiza appeared as Micaёla (Carmen), Mimì (La Bohème), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Ännchen (Der Freischütz), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte).
On the concert stage, the South African is also an active performer and gives recitals and solo concerts worldwide: She gave a recital with pianist Simon Lepper at Opera North in Leeds, concerts with Bilkent Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Fanshil’s conducting in Turkey, with Giorquestra conducted by Carlo Bernini in Spain and with Folkwang Kammerorchester, under the baton of Johannes Klumpp. In 2019 Pumeza Matshikiza also performed Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish and opera galas at LvivMozArt Festival. Moreover, she gave singing and acting masterclasses at Prague Summer Nights Festival. The South African soprano gave recitals in Rio de Janeiro, participated in Dmitry Korchak’s Festival at Novosibirsk and sang solo concerts with the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, the Ensemble Conductus and Windkraft at SONORA 701 Festival. She also sang world premiere of Luca Francesconi’s Bread, Water and Salt, based on the famous speech of Nelson Mandela, together with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and with the Orchestre de la Radio France at Paris Philharmonic. Pumeza Matshikiza also performed the role of Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the English Concert Orchestra as part of the Bristol Proms series. She appeared at the BBC Proms in the Park, singing in front of several ten thousands of people. In 2020 she performed Richard Strauss’ 3 Hymnen of Friedrich Hölderlin together with Württembergische Philharnonie Reutlingen, under Gregor Bühl’s conducting for the first time.
Pumeza Matshikiza is regularly joining stage with star-tenor Rolando Villazón: in 2014 they went on a European tour taking them to Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Philahrmonie am Gasteig Munich, Kuppelsaal Hanover, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Moscow Philharmonic and Helsinki. In July 2016 they sang an open-air concert under the baton of Duncan Ward at Schloss Salem. At the renowned Grafenegg Festival and the Klassik am Dom Festival in Linz they performed gala concerts in 2019 and return to sing in Poland in summer 2020.
Pumeza Matshikiza studied at the University of Cape Town and the Royal College of Music. Roles at the RCM included Marenka (The Bartered Bride), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Concepcion (L’heure espagnole), Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro). The soprano also participated in masterclasses with renowned artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Renata Scotto, Joan Rogers, Paul Farrington, Philip Langridge and Ileana Cotrubas. She has worked with accompanists Paul Montag, Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake, Simon Lepper.
Pumeza Matshikiza was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera House from 2007-2009 and could be heard as Blumenmädchen in Wagner’s Parsifal, Slave in Strauss’ Salome, Innocent (The Minotaur), Witch in Dido and Aeneas, Sandmann (Hänsel und Gretel) and Tebaldo in Verdi’s Don Carlo, conducted by Antonio Pappano. 2010 Pumeza Matshikiza was awarded with the 1st Prize in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition and became an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, singing the title role in Mozart’s Zaide for which she was awarded with the Patrick Fyffe-Dame Hilda Brackett Prize.