CTO’s Youth Development and Education team is currently working with a number of schools in Vredenburg, Retreat and Khayelitsha to introduce and create short operas with their learners under the auspices of “Opera Is My First Language”.

The first half of 2018 saw learners from the Chris Hani Arts & Culture High School and Lathi-Tha School of Special Skills in Khayelitsha, creating inspiring performances of Finding David, an exploration of Athol Fugard’s novel Tsotsi.  We worked with visual arts non-profit organisations Lalela (in Hout Bay) and Baz-Art (in Cape Town) to create the striking scenery for Finding David (designed by EPWP design intern Christiaan Harris). We partnered with the National Lotteries Commission, City of Cape Town and Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport to bring this new, fresh version of Tsotsi to life.

We have also produced an abridged rendition of Don Pasquale with St. Mary’s Primary School in Retreat and Masiphatisane Primary School in Vredenburg, for which students of both schools worked hard to transform this classic piece into a youth opera. The team of five CTO singers plus a director, choreographer, repetiteur, stage manager and assistant worked one-on-one with 30 children over three months to bring Don Pasquale to life in these Western Cape communities.

We want to thank Rand Merchant Bank, MariaMarina, Fondation Alta Mane, IMAF, City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the HCI Foundation for their support in helping these kids to get in touch with opera. The team will expand the reach to include more areas in the Western Cape Province in the second half of 2018, when it embarks on a new project funded by the National Geographic Society around issues of water and land use: San and Xhosa Fix the Future,  as researched, discussed and presented by the youth in our partner schools.

All Youth Development and Education department projects are provided free of charge to the students, which include food as needed for the workshops and transport to attend  Cape Town Opera professional performances in the city.



Cape Town Opera singers Jodie Khan, Abongile Fumba, Nkululeko Masuku and Thando Mpushe, accompanied by maestro Juan Burgers and facilitator Labane Twala, provided an open workshop for high school learners in both Cape Town and the Eden District who’ll be participating in the ABC Motsepe Schools Eisteddfod in July. Learners were put through their paces in a dynamic vocal boot camp and worked through the prescribed repertoire.

South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod Coordinator for the Eden District, Sinovuyo Stofile says, ‘The relationship with Cape Town Opera will have a HUGE impact on the music in the entire Eden district but more so on the lives of the music-loving learners in our schools. Their visit will give our learners hope that they too can end up performing at the Opera House and possibly on international stages and that they too can achieve greatness. It’s more than just musical workshops, it’s an encounter that is life changing, especially as most of them come from poor communities. Too often our district is neglected due to distance, but Cape Town Opera shows that we too are important enough to be developed and that distance should never be a factor.’

These workshops have been made possible by the Western Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the International Music and Arts Foundation and Rand Merchant Bank.


CTO provides access to both young and old hearing- and sight- impaired individuals, with sign language interpretation and audio description at two to three operas per year at the Artscape Theatre Centre. Tickets and interpretive services are provided free of charge, and may also include backstage touch tours for sight-impaired individuals to meet cast and experience the scenery, props and costumes through the sense of touch.


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