South African Opera Federation

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The South African Opera Federation, founded in 1958.


The National Opera Association of South Africa merged with the Opera Society of South Africa to become the South African Opera Federation in 1958. Initially, it received R600 from the Department of Education, Arts and Science, which was the first step in state sponsorship of opera in South Africa. The federation would later receive funding from the government, the provinces and city councils.


Between 1957 and 1962, they performed, among others, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Verdi’s Un ballo un maschera and Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel.

Many of the works were performed in English and Afrikaans, and were staged in Johannesburg, Kroonstad, Benoni, Rustenburg and Kimberley. Operas performed in Afrikaans translation, included Die Fledermaus by Strauss, La bohème by Puccini, Die Zauberflöte by Mozart, Les contes d'Hoffmann by Offenbach, as well as new Afrikaans operas like In die Droogte.

1958: La traviata (in English); In die Droogte (in Afrikaans); Die Fledermaus (in Afrikaans); Gianni Schicchi (in English)

1959: La bohème (in Afrikaans); The Telephone; Amelia Goes to the Ball

1960: Die Zauberflöte (in Afrikaans); Rigoletto

1961: La traviata; Don Pasquale

1962: Die verhale van Hoffmann; Un ballo in maschera; Hänsel und Gretel (in English)

These productions gave South African singers the opportunity to become leading singers in local productions. Singers such as Mimi Coertse, Nellie du Toit, Gé Korsten, Rita Roberts, Hans van Heerden, Dawie Couzyn and Fred Dahlberg established themselves as performers within the opera tradition.


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 Unpublished PhD thesis.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

Antoinette Johanna Olivier. 2014. 'Exploring contributions to opera by The Black Tie Ensemble: a historical case study'. Mini-dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master‟s in Music at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University.

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