Aviva Pelham

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Aviva Pelham (1948-). Actor, singer, director.


From Aviva's website: "Born into an extremely musical family in Zimbabwe, her home was filled with music and every member of the family sang. In addition to Opera, Teaching and Performing qualifications, she obtained a Master's Degree from University of Cape Town. Since making her debut in the role of Norina from Don Pasquale she performed extensively on local and international stages, television and radio. She has worked with numerous illustrious conductors including Janos Furst, Piero Gamba, Hubert Sudant, Victor Yampolsky, Reinhard Schwarz and many others. Aviva occasionally presents programmes on Fine Music Radio and lectures part-time at UCT Opera School."

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance


Aviva Pelham has performed in opera, musicals, operetta, oratorio and cabaret.

Opera roles include: "Violetta" in La Traviata, or "Rosina" in The Barber of Seville, "Musetta" in La Boheme, "Susanna" in The Marriage of Figaro, "Gilda" in Rigoletto, "Norina" in Don Pasquale, "Marcellina" in Fidelio, "Adina" in L’Elisir D’Amore, "Zerlina" in Don Giovanni, and "Oscar" in Un Ballo in Maschera.

In addition, she has starred in the leading roles in operettas including Die Fledermaus, La Belle Helene, La Perichole, A Night in Venice, The Student Prince, The Great Waltz, "Yum Yum" in The Mikado and The Merry Widow.

She has also appeared in countless musicals such as My Fair Lady (Eliza Doolittle), The Sound of Music, The King and I (Anna), Fiddler on the Roof (Golde), Man of La Mancha, Kiss Me, Kate, Into the Woods (Witch) and Kismet.

In 2012, Aviva created and performed Santa's Story, a one-woman show detailing her mother's journey from Germany, to Spain, to France and then to Africa - punctuated by wonderful live Klesmer music.


Aviva has directed countless fundraisers for the arts and for various charities. She has directed several gala concerts and spectacular's for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble (CPYWE), as well as performances by Heavenly Quartez, accompanied by the CPO, in Khayalitsha and at Artscape and Oude Libertas.

Musical director

Aviva was Musical director for Atkinson at 80: The Importance of Being Michael (2007).


Aviva published a memoir, My Musical Odyssey.


During her illustrious career, Aviva has been recognised with the following awards:

Nederburg Opera Prize for her outstanding portrayal of the role of the Governess in Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw

Fred Dalberg Award for advanced studies at the Conservatoire of La Scala in Italy for La Traviata

Fleur de Cap Award for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

Vita Award nomination for the role of the Witch in Into the Woods for best contribution to a musical

Friends of the Opera Award 'Singer of the Year' on four occasions

Vita Award for Best Performance in a Musical for the highly successful “DIVINE DIVAS” which Aviva conceived and starred in

A Gala Tribute Concert in 1997 for her remarkable contribution to the Performing Arts in Cape Town - “VIVA AVIVA”

The Bell'Arte Award for services to music in Cape Town

The Department of Arts and Culture Merit Award for outstanding contribution to the Arts

The International Paul Harris Award from Rotary in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among the peoples of the world


Tucker, 1997.

Aviva Pelham Home Page [www.avivapelham.co.za].

Wikipedia (Afrikaans) [1].

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