Cape Town Opera

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Cape Town Opera (CTO) is a professional opera company in Cape Town, run as a permanent section 21-company non-profit performing arts organisation.


It was officially founded in 1999 by the management and staff of the former South Africa Arts Council Opera and the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) (although the theatre programme for the 1997 production of Into the Woods shows it was produced by Cape Town Opera). The company was formed, following the demise of CAPAB Opera, to ensure the survival of opera in Cape Town.

It is the only opera company to produce operas in Cape Town, with some productions in conjunction with the University of Cape Town Opera School.

Although standard Italian opera remains part of the company’s repertoire, it has become the opera company that has produced the most indigenous operatic works in the history of opera in South Africa. New works include Amarantha, Love and Green Onions.

Although the casts had changed from predominantly white singers to predominantly black singers, the choice of repertoire remained based on the quality of the available voices and their ability to sing and interpret the roles and operas. However, the new voices had given the company the possibilities to explore new repertoire and create new work for the available singers.

Cape Town Opera Young Artist Training Programme

Cape Town Opera also offers the Cape Town Opera Young Artist Training Programme, which is a unique, two year training programme aimed at giving graduate singers, with soloist potential, the opportunity to consolidate and refine their technique and stage skills before launching professional careers.


1999: Le Nozze di Figaro, Madama Butterfly, L'elisir d'amore, Carmen, Aida, Hänsel und Gretel, Elektra

2000: Die Lustige Witwe, La Traviata, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Tannhäuser, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, Amarantha

2001: Porgy and Bess, Love and Green Onions, Macbeth, Un Ballo in Maschera, Rigoletto, La Bohème

2002: Die Zauberflöte, Dido and Aeneas, Madama Butterfly, Idomeneo, Lucia di Lammermoor, Aida, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, Les Pêcheurs de Perles

2003: La Traviata, Hänsel und Gretel, earthdiving, Nabucco, The Bartered Bride, Faust, La Damnation de Faust, Così Fan Tutte

2004: Dark Sonnet, The Pardoner’s Tale, Fidelio, La Traviata, Alcina, Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata, Andrea Chénier, Die Fledermaus

2005: Il Trovatore, Valley Song, Nabucco, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, Masque, Cavalleria Rusticana, Gianni Schicchi

2006: Rusalka, Treemonisha, La Bohème, Le Nozze di Figaro, Porgy and Bess, Così Fan Tutte

2007: Tosca, The Orphans of Qumbu, La Rondine, Die Zauberflöte, Manon

2008: Rigoletto, Werther, Don Giovanni, Aida, Poet and Prophetess, L'incoronazione di Poppea

2009: Madama Butterfly, L'elisir d'amore, Dead Man Walking, The Cunning Little Vixen

2010: Il Viaggio a Reims, Der Rosenkavalier, African Songbook: A Musical Tribute to the Life of Nelson Mandela, Lucia di Lammermoor, Five:20 Operas Made in SA (Out of Time, Words from a Broken String, Saartjie, Hani, Tronkvoël)

2011: Carmen, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Brundibar, The Rake’s Progress, La Traviata, Die Entführung aus dem Serail

2012: Fidelio, The Flower of Shembe, La Bohème, Porgy and Bess, Les Contes d'Hoffmann

2013: Otello, Two:30 (Sing the Body Electric!, Between a Rock and a Hard Place), Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Il Barbiere di Siviglia

2014: Il Viaggio a Reims, Le Nozze di Figaro, Postcards from Morocco

2015: La Traviata, Heart of Redness, The Merry Widow of Malagawi, Maria Stuarda, Four:30 – Operas Made in South Africa (The Application, Blood of Mine, Bessie: The Blue-Eyed Xhosa, Anti-Lauis)


2017: Rigoletto


1997: Into the Woods

2017: Tiger Bay The Musical


Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

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