Big Wig Opera with an all-African leading cast of Madama Butterfly at the Roodepoort Theatre 25 and 27 September.

Soprano Bongiwe Madlala Musa will be singing the role of Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly).  Since completing her opera studies at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Opera School she has been performing all across the world.  In 2001 she was one of four invited singers to sing at the Global Summit Women of the World that was held in Hong Kong.  Furthermore she was invited, in June 2004, to perform for His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The following year, 2005, she was invited to sing in Japan at the AICHI World Expo in Nagoya, as well as at the South African Embassy in Tokyo.


Mezzo-soprano Nonhlanhla Yende, who will be singing the role of Suzuki, made her operatic debut at the Roodepoort Theatre in 2007 where after she joined Cape Town Opera as a member of its opera training programme.  Apart from her vast repertoire she has studied with opera masters across the globe.  In 2013 she took part in a 6-week scholarship program with South African-born mezzo-soprano Michelle Breedt and later took part in The Garmisch-Pinkerschen Richard Strauss Festival where she studied with Prof. Brigitte Fassbaender.


Tenor Rheinaldt Tshepo Moagi will be singing the role of Pinkerton.  Another graduate from the TUT Opera School, Moagi has been performing opera all over the world since 2001.  Some of the highlights of his career include a concert with Renee Flemming in 2008, performances of Ariadne Auf Naxus at the University of Michigan in 2013 and obtaining 3rd place at the 2013 Hans Gabor International Belvedere Singing Competition.


Baritone Thabang Senekal, who will be singing the role of Sharpless, started his opera career with the Black Tie Ensemble (known today as Gauteng Opera).  His repertoire include roles such as Schaunard (La Bohème), Germont (La Traviata), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Escamillo (Carmen) and the name role in Gianni Schicci. In 2014 he sang the role of Nelson Mandela in the premier of Madiba The African Opera.


Making his operatic debut is baritone Thabang Modise in the role of Bonz.  Modise joined the opera chorus for Aria! Opera for Everyone at the Roodepoort Theatre at the end of 2013 and has excelled as a young singer since then.  The role of Kate will be sung by mezzo-soprano Claudia Pike, who has most recently received her B.Mus Honours degree in Opera from the University of Pretoria.


Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Roodepoort Theatre will be directed by tenor Stéfan Louw, who is also the joint artistic director at Big Wig Opera.  Louw, who himself has sung the role of Pinkerton on numerous occasions over the past 20 years, is looking forward to directing another of Big Wig Opera’s productions after directing L’elisir d’amore earlier this year to great acclaim from the critics.


This will be the first full opera production by Big Wig Opera and will be performed without any cuts (except the traditional cuts).  Eugene Joubert will once again be the ever-faithful ‘orchestra’ in front of the piano with Schalk J. van der Merwe as the conductor.


Van der Merwe is a post-graduate student at the University of Pretoria where holds the position as assistant conductor of the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra.  Earlier this year he was privileged to be appointed assistant to South African-born Maestro Gérard Korsten.  Over the past two years he has received master classes from Russian maestros Evgeny Bushkov and Daniel Raiskin at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, James Ross from the Julliard School in New York, German Conductor Jan Moritz Onken at the Odion School of Music, Matheu Kieswetter from the UK and Victor Yampolsky from the Bienen School of Music in the USA.


Tickets for Madama Butterfly are available from R190 by calling 0861 670 670.  The premier on Friday 25 September starts at 20:00 with the Sunday matinee on 27 September starting at 15:00.  For more information visit