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The Three South African Tenors

The Three South African Tenors, Siyabonga Maqungo, July Zuma and Sunnyboy Dladla, will return to South Africa for this year’s RMB Starlight Classics at Country Club Johannesburg. All opera singers with successful solo careers, this special occasion is a rare opportunity to see them singing together. The Three South African Tenors are all currently based in Germany, like so many of South Africa’s top singers, and their engagement lists read like a tour of Germany’s opera houses: Oper Köln, Oper Stuttgart, Staatsoper Hamburg, Oper Leipzig, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and other European opera houses like Opernhaus Zürich

Singing has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember.


Siyabonga Maqungo has been singing all his life. Born in Soweto, Gauteng, he studied at the North West University where he won the singing competition for three consecutive years. Since completing his studies at the Cologne University of Music, Europe’s largest academy of music, he has performed all over Europe. Maqungo is currently participating in the 2017 Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Norway and we wish him all the best. This year, 241 singers from 49 countries applied and only 40 singers from 21 countries have been invited to the preliminary rounds in Oslo, all hoping to win a prize in one of the world’s leading voice competitions. When asked in Norway what inspired him to become a singer, Maqungo said, ‘Singing has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. Thanks to my late mother, I grew up in a church where it all began – singing in a Sunday school choir. It never dawned on me that one day I could sing professionally. It was only at a later stage in my life when I realised it was something that gave me satisfaction, joy and happiness, but most of all it was something of value and purpose. What inspired me the most was the power of music to elevate the human soul and spirit to a place where no one can explain, but only feel.’ Through his participation in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition, Maqungo hopes to grow as a young singer. ‘I hope it will be a place where I can learn, whether about singing or show business, and build a network and gain some new contacts. I hope to interact with other singers from all around the world and perhaps learn more about different cultures. To win a prize in any category would be a cherry on top of the cake, but I think in a way we have all won by being invited to this prestigious competition.’

Zuma is currently performing the role of Pedrillo in Mozart‘s Entführung aus dem Serail with the Kammerphilharmonie Graubünden in Switzerland

July Zuma was born in and grew up in Durban. He obtained his Performer’s Diploma in Opera from The South African College of Music’s Opera School at the University of Cape Town under Prof. Angelo Gobbato. He continued his operatic studies at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain doing a postgraduate programme in Vocal Studies and Repertoire/Honours Degree with Prof. Eduardo Gimenéz. Zuma is currently performing the role of Pedrillo in Mozart‘s Entführung aus dem Serail with the Kammerphilharmonie Graubünden in Switzerland. Recently, he sang the part of Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in a production of the Opera Vox Cultural Association in Uster, Switzerland and performed the role of Gastone in Verdi‘s La traviata at the Monschau Festival in Germany. He appeared as a tenor soloist in Schubert’s Mass in B-flat and Mozart’s Regina Coeli at the St. Maria Rosenkranzkirche in Kassel, Germany. Zuma still returns to sing in South Africa and recently performed a staged version of Handel’s Messiah at the Durban Playhouse Theatre in Durban, directed by Ralph Lawson. His debut with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen was at the Summer in Lesmona Festival opera gala and he is one of the winners of the International Singing Competition Schloss Rheinsberg. Zuma has attended numerous international singing masterclasses, including the Montserrat Caballé Singing Masterclass held in Zaragoza, Spain. He is also one of the protagonists in the film documentary Cape of Good Voices by award-winning director Ralf Pleger.

Dladla is a classical lyric tenor, a Tenore di grazia, and thus predestined for the bel canto parts of Donizetti and Rossini


Sunnyboy Dladla was born in the townships of Piet Retief, Mpumalanga and originally wanted to be a nurse, according to his German Wikipedia page. Encouraged by schoolmates Pretty Yende and Given Nkosi, who also grew up in Piet Retief, he went to Cape Town and studied with Sidwill Hartman at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town and began performing in operas during his studies. In 2009, Dladla graduated from the Zurich University of the Arts with the American lyric tenor, Scot Weir, and he completed a masterclass with Renée Fleming at the Musikhochschule LübeckDladla is a classical lyric tenor, a Tenore di grazia, and thus predestined for the bel canto parts of Donizetti and Rossini. During his time in Zurich, he performed in Lucia di Lammermoor, as Dorvil in La scala di seta, as Paolino in Il matrimonio segreto, and as Nick in Puccini’s La fanciulla del WestSince 2014, Dladla has enjoyed great success in Europe in The Barber of Seville at the Stuttgart State Opera, at the Hessian State Theatre of Wiesbaden and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he also took over the role of Gobin in Puccini‘s La rondine. Internationally, Dladla has been contracted for a number of sacred works and has sung numerous bel canto programmes. On Human Rights Day 2016, he gave a gala concert at the Cape Town Opera together with his school friend, soprano Pretty Yende.

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