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Musa Ngqungwana, Biography

A native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana has been praised by The New York Times for his “rich, glowing voice and elegant legato,” and by The Wall Street Journal as “a powerful bass-baritone.”


His upcoming engagements include the title role in The Glimmerglass Festival’s production of Porgy and Bess, his debut with English National Opera as Amonasro in Aida, Zuniga in Carmen with Opera Philadelphia, and reprising the role of Queequeg in Pittsburgh Opera and Utah Opera’s productions of Moby Dick. Recently, Musa made his Canadian debut as Angelotti in Tosca, in addition to debuts at The Glimmerglass Festival as Gottardo in La gazza ladra; at Los Angeles Opera as Queequeg in Moby Dick; at both the Norwegian National Opera and Palm Beach Opera as Zuniga in Carmen; at Dallas Opera in the company’s production of Eugene Onegin, where he also performed the role of Queequeg in Moby Dick; and at Washington National Opera as Colline in La bohème, where he also sang the role of Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars.


His recent concert work has included featured performances with The Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as at the U.S. Naval Academy, and at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.


Mr. Ngqungwana’s vocal promise continues to be recognized nationally and internationally. In 2014, he was nominated for the Marian Anderson Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He was also the 2014 winner of the Cesare Santeremo / Dr.Campbell Award from Opera Index in New York City, and a third prize winner of the Giulio Gari and Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competitions. In 2013, Mr. Ngqungwana was the Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a recipient of the Lissner Charitable Award from the Licia Albanese / Puccini International Vocal Competition, and the recipient of the Apollo Music Trust.


Further recognitions include the 2011 Oppenheimer Memorial Trust award and the 2010 winner of the WBHO / Jan Kaminski Award. Mr. Ngqungwana was a finalist in the 29th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna, Austria, where he was awarded the “Die Zeit” prize. Additionally, he was the 2009 winner at the International Turandot Competition organized by the International Institute for Opera and Poetry for the role of Ping, and the 2007 winner of the Schock Prize for Singing at the Baxter Theater in Cape Town.


Other performance highlights have included the roles of Talpa in Il tabarro at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, Count Waldner in Arabella at the Helen Corning Warden Theater, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni at the Walter K. Gordon Theater at Rutgers University, Lorenzo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and Zuniga in Carmen with the Crested Butte Music Festival, plus the following roles during his time at the Academy of Vocal Arts—the title role in Verdi's Oberto, the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Sancho Pança in Massenet's Don Quichotte, Samuel in Un ballo in maschera, and Les Comte Grieux in Massenet’s Manon.


Additional previously performed operatic roles include Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Don Profondo in Il viaggio a Reims with the University Of Cape Town Opera School; Il Gran Sacerdote in Verdi’s Nabucco with Opera Philadelphia; Ping in Turandot with Teatro Filarmonico (Verona); and the Priest in The Cunning Little Vixen with ArtsCape Theater.

Throughout his career, Mr. Ngqungwana has worked with Philippe Auguin, Marco Armiliato, Calixto Bieito, Fabien Gabel, Corrado Rovaris, Thaddeus Strassberger, Gianfranco Debosio, and Antonio Pirolli.


Mr. Ngqungwana graduated with Honors in Performance (First Class) from the University of Cape Town and is also a graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia. He is the author of a memoir, “Odyssey of an African Opera Singer: From Zwide Township to the World Stage”, which was published in 2014 and is available on Amazon and CreateSpace. He is represented worldwide by William Guerri at Columbia Artists (CAMI).



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