Lyric soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, described as "one of today's most exciting new operatic voices" (Independent), is at the forefront of a group of emerging opera stars from South Africa. An exclusive Decca Classics recording artist, Matshikiza’s debut album on the label will be released in 2014.
For the past two seasons Matshikiza has been a member of the ensemble at the Stuttgart State Opera. Recent roles include Nanetta Falstaff, Annchen Der Freischutz, Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Pamina Die Zauberflöte. Highlights this season include Mimi in a new production of La bohème for Stuttgart State Opera, a role debut, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the English Concert Orchestra at the Bristol Old Vic as part of the Bristol Proms series, two concerts with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra in Denmark and an appearance at the BBC Proms in the Park.
Next season, Matshikiza will perform a European tour with tenor Rolando Villazon, make her debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, perform a World Premiere with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican and make her debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
Matshikiza studied at the University of Cape Town College of Music under Professor Virginia Davids before continuing her studies at the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Michel Vallat as a Peter Moores, Pidem, and Derek Butler Trust Scholar. Roles at the RCM include Marenka The Bartered Bride, Fiordiligi Cosi fan tutte, Rosalinde Die Fledermaus, Conçeption L’heure Espagnol, Poppea L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Contessa Le nozze di Figaro. Matshikiza also participated in masterclasses with artists such as Philip Langridge, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Renata Scotto, Joan Rogers, Paul Farrington and Ileana Cotruba and has also worked with accompanists Malcolm Martineau and Simon Lepper.
Matshikiza then became a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme at the Royal Opera House for the 2007/8 and 2008/9 seasons, making her house debut singing the role of Flower maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal. Whilst here, she also sung the roles of Slave Salome, Innocent The Minotaur, Tebaldo Don Carlos, Witch Dido and Aeneas and Sandman Hänsel und Gretel. In January 2010 Matshikiza won First Prize in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition and became an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, singing the title role in Zaide for which she won the Patrick Fyffe-Dame Hilda Brackett prize.
Pumeza Matshikiza records exclusively for Decca Classics
Pumeza Matshikiza is represented worldwide by Intermusica.
July 2014 / 396 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Pumeza / Voice of Hope [CD: Decca Records]
“Each number advertises an ample and well controlled lyric voice, especially appealing in her three Puccini arias and the lilting Swahili song “Malaika”.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, August 2014
Dido Dido and Aeneas / Bristol Proms, Bristol Old Vic
“Pumeza Matshikiza gives a fabulous Dido at the Bristol Proms…Her Dido looked magnificent, a shimmering, silver-clad African queen, and her voice shimmered, too… it made a nice change to hear a fruity, sensual soprano in this role”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, August 2014
“The title role was sung by the South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, whose luxuriant fullness of tone had a thrilling edge”
Michael Church, Independent, August 2014
“Matshikiza’s lambent, coppery sound was thrilling at close range."
Anna Picard, Times, August 2014
“The young South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, as Dido, has a gloriously rich and exciting voice, with an edge to it… Matshikiza’s heart-tugging cry, “Remember me,” was memorable indeed.”
Clare Colvin, Sunday Express, August 2014
“A more talented ambassador for South Africa would be difficult to find. Her rendition of Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye was as apt as it was touching. It was the highlight to my night’s viewing.”
Helen McLuckie, Daily Express, August 2014
“Pumeza Matshikiza gave an outstanding rendition of the main part using her voice with great control to convey the different moods of her character… Dido's Lament was poignantly sung and altogether Pumeza showed her confidence throughout.”
John Packwood, Bristol Post, August 2014
“I think I’ve found the new Maria Callas…
What initially arrested me, and went on fascinating me, was not only the beauty of her singing, one of the loveliest lightish lyric sopranos I have heard in the flesh, but also her commitment to the role she was performing.
…[the CD] is enchanting, a selection of classical arias interspersed with South African songs. There is only one Mozart aria… Zerlina’s coaxing ‘Vedrai carino’, and three Puccini arias, including a ravishing ‘Donde lieta usci’ from Act III ofLa bohème. The South African songs are… highly enjoyable… It needs to be heard to be believed.”
Michael Tanner, Spectator, August 2014
Mimi La bohème / Oper Stuttgart
Cond. Simon Hewett and Till Drömann / dir. Andrea Moses
“Pumeza Matshikiza made a successful role debut, with her wonderfully warm, naturally rather dark coloured timbre which remains tonally flexible in its low register.”
“Ebenso gelungen die Besetzung der Mimì als Rollendebüt für Pumeza Matshikiza mit deren wunderbar warmem, von Natur aus eher dunkel eingefärbtem Timbre, das bis in tiefe Register klanglich flexibel bleibt.”
Thomas Gehrig, Klassik, June 2014
“An ideal cast… Pumeza Matshikiza as Mimi.”
“eine Idealbesetzung, nicht minder Pumeza Matshikiza als Mimi.”
Rainer Zerbst, SWR2, June 2014
Blumenmädchen in Wagner Parsifal / Oper Stuttgart
cond. Sylvain Cambreling / dir. Calixto Bieito
“Oper Stuttgart also fielded some exquisitely sung Blumenmädchen, among them former Jette Parker Young Artist Pumeza Matshikiza as Clingfilm-encased victim Number 5.”
Faye Courtney, Opera Britannia, May 2013
Susanna in Mozart Le nozze di Figaro
“Pumeza Matshikiza, a distinctive dark-skinned beauty, had already displayed enormous potential in the season’s opening concert. As Susanna, she showed a good sense of comedy, and thanks to her timbre, sang the role with both exceptionally colourful lower notes and blossoming high notes, with a lyrical tone throughout”
Der neue Merker, February 2012
“Stuttgart’s newest soprano, Pumeza Matshikiza… What a discovery!”
Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 2012
“The South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza… shows great promise… Here, as Susanna, we can see her developing into a remarkable singer”
Opernfreund, December 2011
Zerlina in Mozart Don Giovanni
“With the darkly quivering melancholy of her tone, Pumeza Matshikiza portrayed Zerlina with a fascinating ambivalence”
Esslinger Zeitung, July 2012
“Pumeza Matshikiza gives a refreshing performance in the role of Zerlina. Vocally she is perfect for this part, a bright, cheerful soprano whose special touch contributes significantly to the revival of this production.”
Horst Dichanz, Opernnetz, July 2012
Isis in Denisov L’Écume des jours
“Isis was sung by Pumeza Matshikiza with brilliant radiance”
Der neue Merker, January 2013
Pamina in Mozart Die Zauberflöte
“There was a moment of enormous intensity in Stuttgart’s production of Die Zauberflöte. It was in the second act, when Pamina has found her Tamino; but as part of his rites of purification, he has been ordered by the priests not to speak a word to her, making Pamina think that his love for her is already over. “Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden, / ewig hin der Liebe Glück!”. For a moment, the entire auditorium was completely silent, as the audience watched and listened eagerly. This moment of intensity was down to Pumeza Matshikiza, the South African soprano, who expressed this sudden sadness so expressively and movingly, and yet so apparently effortlessly, with her gloriously secure and colourful voice. What an experience!(...) The real magic in this performance was Pumeza Matshikiza”
Stuttgarter Zeitung, December 2012
Vendulka in Smetana Hubicka (The Kiss) / Wexford Opera
cond. Jaroslav Kyzlink / dir. Michael Gieleta
“The other major discovery was South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza. Not only was she a winning Vendulka in Smetana’s Hubicka, she also gave an excellent recital at St. Iberius Church. From the moment she began singing Fauré’s “Après un rêve”, through her rendition of Grieg’s “Ein Traum”, the audience gave its full attention. She has timbre that’s hers alone… she remarkably poised and quietly present, with the gift of inviting you into her private world – the mark of a natural recitalist!”
Brian Kellow, Opera News
“South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, an open-hearted singer… deservedly won the audience’s heart.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, October 2010
“South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza adds further to her rising reputation with her beautifully sung and acted Vendulka”
George Hall, The Stage, October 2010
“As Vendulka, Pumeza Matshikiza revealed a voice of huge potential, velvety and warm in tone and it projects well. The upper reaches retain tonal beauty... She also has an attractive and strong stage-presence… The highlight of her portrayal was her hushed singing of the lullaby-prayer ‘Hajej, můj andílku’, an exquisite aria that is a striking predecessor to similar passages in other Czech opera such as Janáček’s “Jenůfa”.”
Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, October 2010
Mimi in Puccini La bohème
Opera Bohemia / Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Pumeza Matshikiza’s Mimi was as rapt an interpretation as one could expect to hear today. That distinctively warm and rich timbre was a joy to hear as it cosseted Mimi’s soaring climaxes with a distinctively old world charm. (With) a voice that could interpret Puccini’s Mimi in such a way that she ought to be performing it at many of the world’s leading opera houses.”
Antony Lias, Opera Britannia
“Wow! What a voice. It was clear, from the buzz at the end of Act 1, that the audience wasn't expecting anything so full, rich and powerful when Mimi began to sing in Opera Bohemia's Edinburgh Festival Fringe production of La bohème”.
Catriona Graham, Opera Critic
, August 2010
Jette Parker Opera Scheme 2009
‘ … Pumeza Matshikiza has superb vocal control … We can count on seeing most of these singers in future full-length productions: the Jette Parker scheme is prestigious enough to jump-start careers and judging by the quality of this group such prestige is warranted …’
Kate Molleson, Opera Magazine, October 2009
Tebaldo in Verdi Don Carlo / Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
cond. Semyon Bychkov / dir. Nicholas Hytner
“…a charming Tebaldo from Pumeza Matshikiza”
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, September 2009