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Opera South Africa | Executive Team

Patron: Rev. Alfreddie Johnson, PhD (USA)

Founder, World Literacy Crusade, www.worldliteracy.org

President, American Health & Education Clinics, www.amhec.org

Chairman & CEO: HRH Unathi “Phathuxolo” Mtirara

Unathi “Phathuxolo” Mtirara was born and grew up in the village of Mqhekezweni near Mthatha in the Kingdom of AbaThembu, Eastern Cape.

Unathi “Phathuxolo” Mtirara was born and grew up in the village of Mqhekezweni near Mthatha in the Kingdom of AbaThembu, Eastern Cape.

Although he has always enjoyed choral music, initially he did not like classical music when he was growing up.  He joined the Umtata Choral Society in 1999 and worked with community choirs as choir member and conductor. In 2001 he moved to East London and joined the Methodist Church Choir during his time in East London.  In 2002 he moved to Gauteng and immediately joined the Gauteng Choristers.  During his time with the Gauteng Choristers, he got exposed to classical music as this chorus also included classics in their repertoire – having sung classical music, he realised how beautiful classical music is and he enjoyed the challenge of the unique technical demands of classical music. At his time with the Gauteng Choristers he had an opportunity to tour European counties like Grees - Athens, Italy -Rome, Austria – Vienna, Switzerland – Basil & Zurich, Hungary – Budapest, Belgium – Brussels under the burner of MIAGI and the United States of America - Chicago under the burner of Opera Africa

He joined the Black Tie Opera Chorus in early 2005 after successfully auditioning for a position in the Chorus.  Since joining the chorus, as a chorus member he took part in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (2005); The Black Tie Ensemble’s A tribute to Mario Lanza in Pretoria (2005) and in Sasolburg, Bloemfontein, Maungaung, Welkom (2007) and Pretoria (2007); The Annual Black Tie Ensemble Christmas Concert (2005 and 2006); a programme of Four Opera Vignettes comprising Puccini’s Tosca and Madama Butterfly on Donizetti’s operas Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore (2006) and Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci and Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana (2006), The Merry Widow (2009).  

He joined the permanent staff of BTE in July 2005 and was appointed as Organiser and Chorus Manager.  As a member of the management team, he accompanied the Black Tie Opera Chorus during its performances in A Tribute to Mario Lanza in Sasolburg, Bloemfontein, Mangaung and Welkom as Chorus Manager and member of the Chorus.

In 2008 he was appointed as the Manager of The Black Tie Ensemble, in his capacity as Manager, Unathi has organised and accompanied The Black Tie Ensemble members for several performances locally and abroad (Zambia). In 2006 he was involved with sourcing a major funding from  the Department of Arts and Culture for  The Black Tie Ensemble Incubator Scheme and was in charge for its day to day running, in the same year he was also involved with the Royal Bafokeng Holdings sponsorship towards The Black Tie Ensemble that saw him putting together a music development program for the Royal Bafokeng Nation, these programs included schools visits, conductors workshops and recently (2009) launched the first annual Royal Bafokeng Schools Choir Festival which was a total success, from this he has been asked by Royal Bafokeng to take this project even further by developing the fist Royal Bafokeng Youth Choir that will tour the country and eventually tour the world, he later was appointed as Managing Director of Bafokeng Arts.

Mid 2009, Unathi approached  a few individuals in the classical industry with the aim of registering a first Black Opera Company in South Africa and came up with a project that will address both Choral and Opera music in South Africa and he founded Opera South Africa with the help of other team members that was based at The South African State Theatre, Pretoria, this team of individuals brought in the project a number years of experience in different fields of music, those experiences put together they make a strong team at Opera South Africa, in 2009 he was then appointed  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Opera South Africa .

Under his leadership, since 2010 Opera South Africa has been the talk of the town with profiles from one of South Africa’s leading Classical Magazine “CLASSICFEEL”, Business Quotably (BQ) to mention but a few.


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