22-year old Sazi Gcaba wins International Opera Competition

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Mr Sazi Gcaba, a UFH third-year student, is the winner of the Voices of South Africa International Opera (VOSA) 2020 online competition - under 22 category.

After several rounds of meticulous judging by acclaimed opera maestros such as Sibongile Khumalo, Andrew Staples, Marsha Thompson and others, the 22-year-old who hails from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape was announced the overall winner of this prestigious competition in the above mentioned category.

He was among five students from the UFH Music Department who auditioned and made it to the advanced stages of the competition.  At the end, Gcaba made it to the grand finale held on 21 December.

Established in 2015 by London based South African Baritone Opera singer Njabulo Madlala, the competition creates a platform for young and up-coming opera singers to take part in the international opera stage as professional soloists.

Owing to Covid-19 pandemic regulations, Madlala came up with the idea of hosting the competition online.

From the beginning of July last year, singers were required to submit a one-minute video clip for auditions. The clips were divided into different voice categories such as:  Tenors, Sopranos, Altos and Baritones.  From the clips, 15 finalists were selected weekly in each category. The finalists then proceeded to battle it out live on Facebook every Sunday for a spot in the grand finale.

In an interview with ThisWeek@FortHare, Gcaba whose excitement over winning the competition is yet to wear off, said being part of the competition has taught him to stop underestimating himself.

“Honestly, I did not think I was going to win. The singers I was competing against were amazing and they terrified me at first. For a while, I forgot about winning and just focused on showcasing my talent. But by God’s Grace, I won.”

“I owe this victory to my voice Lecturer Mr Tamsanqa Ncokwana and Mr Madlala for making this possible for me and others. This competition has opened a lot of doors for many singers to flourish, even during the pandemic”, said our young maestro.

Mr Ncokwana, Deputy Head of the Music Department and Opera Specialist, said Gcaba is one of the most dedicated students in the department. “I started working with him while he was still in high school. I then recruited him to study under my supervision after I joined UFH.”

According to Ncokwana, Gcaba’s victory is a victory for the entire UFH Opera singing division. “We are now internationally recognised as our flag has been raised to greater heights.  As a result, I have received an invitation from the organisers of VOSA for my students to participate in the online concert.”


By Aretha Linden