Joseph Manca

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Joseph Manca (1908-1985) Italian-born musician, conductor


Italian immigrant Joseph Salvatore Manca, the son of a Sicilian barber. He was an amateur musician who was a bookkeeper at the Cape Town municipality.

From 1963 he served on CAPAB’s opera committee, and was elected to the Council of the Department of Coloured Affairs in 1968.

He died on 10 October 1985 in Cape Town.

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

His musical career started in 1934 when he collaborated with Alessandro Rota’s National Opera Association.

In 1941 he became conductor of the Cape Town Light Opera Company.

From 1943, Manca was conductor of the EOAN Group choir. Manca conducted the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra for the group’s productions, which were usually staged in the Cape Town City Hall.

He also conducted musicals, including Oklahoma! (1967), South Pacific (1968) and Carmen Jones (1970).


Certificate of Merit from the Three Centuries Foundation, a United States/South Africa Leader Exchange Programme award (1962); an hononary Doctorate from UCT (1963); and a Commemorative Medal from the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1974).


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 Unpublished PhD thesis.

Sjoerd Alkema. 2012. "Conductors of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, 1914-1965: a historical perspective". University of Cape Town. Unpublished PhD thesis.

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