“The distinctive beauty of a special voice” (Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times)
South African lyric soprano Pumeza Matshikiza is one of today’s rising opera stars. An exclusive Decca Classics recording artist, her debut album ‘Voice of Hope’ was released in 2014. Her second album ‘Arias’ will be released in May 2016 showcasing her operatic roles from Purcell to Puccini and newly arranged art songs by Faure, Hahn and Tosti.
Pumeza Matshikiza opened the 15/16 season singing solo concerts in Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Krakow. In October she made her debut with Sir Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome, singing the world premiere of Luca Francesconi’s Bread, Water and Salt, based on the famous speech by Nelson Mandela. These opening concerts of the Santa Cecilia season were broadcast live by RAI and she will reprise this new work as part of Radio France’s Festival Présence in February 2016, Mikko Franck conducting the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. On the operatic stage Pumeza sings Mimì (La Bohème) and as well as making her role debut as Micaёla (Carmen), both at the Staatsoper Stuttgart where she has been a leading ensemble member for the past three seasons. Her roles in Stuttgart have included Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Ännchen (Der Freischütz), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte).
Pumeza Matshikiza can also be heard singing in recitals in London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and at the Salle Gaveau in Paris. In April 2016 she will join American superstar Josh Groban for concerts in South Africa singing Puccini and Gershwin. She also joins Rolando Villazón again for concerts at the BASF Feierabendhaus Ludwigshafen as well as Schloss Salem and gives a solo concert at the Festival de la Vézère, France, before closing the season with a recital at the Rheinvokal Festival.
Recent engagements include her debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan as Eve in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s Co2; Dido in Dido and Aeneas with The English Concert at the Bristol Old Vic as part of the Bristol Proms and again at the Buxton Festival; concerts with Tobias Ringborg and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra in Denmark; an appearance at BBC Proms in the Park, BBC Live at Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Variety Performance. A Europe-wide concert tour with Rolando Villazón took her to London’s Royal Festival Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Gasteig Munich, Kuppelsaal Hanover, Tonhalle Düsseldorf as well as Moscow and Helsinki.
In July 2014 Pumeza sang at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to a global audience of one billion. Her performance of ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ touched the heart of a nation.
Born in the Eastern Cape, Pumeza Matshikiza studied at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town and at the Royal College of Music in London on a full scholarship. Roles at the RCM included Marenka (The Bartered Bride), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Concepcion (L’heure espagnole), Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro). The young soprano also participated in masterclasses with renowned artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Renata Scotto, Joan Rogers, Paul Farrington, Philip Langridge and Ileana Cotrubas. She has worked with accompanists Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake, Simon Lepper and James Baillieu.
Pumeza was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera House from 2007–2009 and was heard as Blumenmädchen in Wagner’s Parsifal, Slave in Strauss’ Salome, Innocent in the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur, Witch in Dido and Aeneas conducted by Christopher Hogwood, Sandmann in Hänsel und Gretel conducted by Sir Colin Davis and Tebaldo in Verdi’s Don Carlo, conducted by Antonio Pappano. In January, 2010 Pumeza won the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition and became an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, singing the title role in Mozart’s Zaide for which she was awarded with the Patrick Fyffe-Dame Hilda Brackett Prize. She also memorably sang the role of Vendulka in Smetena’s The Kiss at the Wexford Festival where, reviewed in the Financial Times, “she stole everyone’s heart”.