Review: Gugulethus Tenors – Outstanding Afro-Opera


The Gugulethu Tenors at the Fugard TheatreDid you know that when you get goosebumps, it is due to a decrease in body temperature?  And that a decrease in body temperature is generally associated with a longer life expectancy? I am no medical doctor but if this is true then attending the sensational, sold-out performance of the Gugulethu Tenors at The Fugard Theatre added quite a few years to my lifespan.

The four vocalists, Mpendulo Yawa, Siyabulela Gqola, Xolani November and Loyiso Dlova are self-taught and their musical collaboration and aspirations had very humble beginnings, starting as they did at the Fezeka High School in Gugulethu township. Yet, 11 years later they have an impressive list of performances to their name including representing South Africaat the 2010 World Cup.  It is no surprise then that they are occasionally referred to as ‘Pavarotti’s Children’.

Their style can be described as Afro-Opera: opera-inspired music with unique contemporary and ethnic elements. And their repertoire includes well-known Italian opera arias like ‘Nessun Dorma’ and ‘Nella Fantasia’, as well as local favourites such as ‘Meadowlands’, Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata Pata’ and even Gé Korsten’s ‘Liefling’.  Their self-titled debut album was released in 2011 and they also have a music video to their name based on one of their own compositions ‘Nyamezela’ (which means ‘to persevere’).

Their performance at The Fugard Theatre this weekend was outstanding to say the least. From the get go these four handsome gentlemen with their big voices, elegant attire and heart-warming stage personalities won the audience over wholeheartedly. Even they seemed a bit surprised if not overwhelmed at the effect they had on the audience as the applause and cheering grew louder after each song.

How better to illustrate the impression they made than to state the fact that, during the interval, the queue at the bar was far shorter than the queue to purchase the Tenors’ CD. Contrary to my nature, I also sacrificed the opportunity to get another glass of wine and instead joined the inspired chatter of the CD queue.

The audience spontaneously joined the Tenors in dance and clapping during the second half of the performance and refused to allow the Tenors off stage. Even after the encore they continued to demand more. I am not alone in fervently hoping that the Tenors soon return to the Fugard.

Andra le Roux-Kemp

Gugulethu Tenors performed at The Fugard Theatre on 9 March 2012. Their next scheduled performance in the W Cape is at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn on 5 and 6 April 2012.



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