In the eyes of the world, Africa and music have long been synonymous, and indeed, hugely respected and revered. Today, one South African woman is proving that the most wonderful musical talent, underpinned by an entrepreneurial spirit, is a powerful combination in this tradition. Gifted Opera singer, Nozuko Teto, is showing the world’s connoisseurs that she is a musical and entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with, and a true inspiration to the generation of young women who are following in her footsteps.
LoA was delighted to connect with Nozuko recently and to hear more about this very special entrepreneurial journey she is on, which is taking her to global stages and destinations, far and wide.
Tell us a little about your company and how you got started
I am an Opera singer by profession, and I have formed a registered company, Adesso Enterprises (Pty) Ltd, through which I aim to perform in a variety of corporate and social events, including weddings, birthdays, product launches, award ceremonies and concerts.
I am a native of Bizana, in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. I obtained my BMUS (Mus.ED.) degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, under Colleen Philp as the voice teacher. In 2010, I graduated with a PGDIP. (Opera Performance) from the University of Cape Town, studying with Professors Kamal Khan and Virginia Davids. I then moved to Italy in 2011 to perfect my performance skills, where at the Center for Belcanto in Modena I studied with the renowned soprano Mirella Freni.
"As an Opera singer, I felt there were plenty of opportunities in South Africa, but it takes hard work and determination. I then decided to explore the business side of things. I registered the company in order to be able to be considered for work as a performer. I discovered that in order to register on a database and be considered for work, I needed to have a registered company."
Give us a flavour of your unique entrepreneurial journey through your performances around the world
My recent professional appearances have included the part of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, at the State Theatre of Pretoria; the soprano part in Handel’s Messiah; and I performed the role of Mimì from La Bohème in Italy and again in November at the NACMA awards ceremony at the Durban Playhouse. In June 2015, I presented a concert in Dublin in preparation for my trip to Wexford. In September 2015, I will be moving to Ireland to work with the Wexford Festival Opera as part of their 2015 season, appearing as Palmyra from Delius’s opera ‘KOANGA’.
In May 2013, I was honoured to win both the first prize and the audience prize after taking part in the Toti dal Monte competition. I obtained the role of Mimì, the leading role in Puccini’s La Bohéme in a production which toured Italy for nine performances starting from Teatro Comunale Mario Del Monaco di Treviso, Teatro Comunale of Ferrara, Teatro Pergolesi of Jesi and Teatro dell’Aquila of Fermo for a period lasting from September 2013 to April 2014. I also sang in various concerts at the Teatro Comunale L. Pavarotti of Modena with the Orchestra of the Puccini Festival; in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw Orchestra; with the Rotterdam Symphony; and I debuted in the role of Mimi in La Bohéme in South Africa.
"Through my company, I not only plan to create work opportunities for myself, but to positively influence other people's lives. My purpose is to change people's lives through music, motivational talks, and master classes."
In July 2013 in Paris, I played the role of Winnie in the Musical Mandela Trilogy at the Marseille Préfecture and, at the Place de la République in Paris. In December 2012, I performed the role of the “Countess” from Le Nozze di Figaro at Teatro Comunale di Piacenza and Modena under the baton of M° Sisillo and Rosetta Cucchi as the director. In March 2013, I was part of the ÈuroDaPónteGranMózartTòur at Teatro San Carlo of Modena, in range of the Cantiere delle Arti dell’Emilia Romagna, under the direction of Claudio Longhi. I also participated in several singing competitions, obtaining recognition and a number of prestigious prizes, thus participating in concerts all over north Italy.
In 2010, I participated in the Hans Gabor Belvedere singing competition in Vienna and was invited to the International Opernwerkstatt in Switzerland. In 2011, I took part in the Cape Town Opera Studio where I appeared as Suor Angelica from Puccini’s ‘Suor Angelica’; Evelyn in Mandela Trilogy (a tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela with a recent tour in the United Kingdom, where I also sang the role of Clara in Porgy e Bess by Gershwin); and the Soprano in Rewind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape, and Testimony composed by Phillip Miller. Other roles have included the Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro in cooperation with Brown University in the USA and with the University of Cape Town. I have also been a recipient of several scholarships, including the Mellon Foundation, the Apollo Trust, the Out of Africa Trust and the Claude Leon Foundation.
My repertoire includes Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore by Donizetti, and Madama Cortese from Il Viaggio a Reims by Rossini. Throughout my career, I have worked with renowned South African directors, such as Angelo Gobbato, Matthew Wild and Christine Crouse. I have also sung as a soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater, in Bach’s Magnificat and, in Mendelssohn’s Elijah. I am currently based in Durban and working with the legendary Juan Burgers as my vocal coach.
Be on the look out for concerts around South Africa as there are several projects in the pipeline.
What inspired you to start your company?
As an Opera singer, I felt there were plenty of opportunities in South Africa, but it takes hard work and determination. I then decided to explore the business side of things. I registered the company in order to be able to be considered for work as a performer. I discovered that in order to register on a database and be considered for work, I needed to have a registered company.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
I am an Opera singer by profession - I am not only gifted, but I have been trained to take my work seriously.
Tell us a little about your team
I work with my voice coach (Pianist) on repertoire for my growth, and to prepare for upcoming events. This way I stay in superb form.
"I not only plan to create work opportunities for myself, but to positively influence other people's lives. My purpose is to change people's lives through music, motivational talks, and master classes."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
There is no other qualified Opera singer who has a registered company that I know of. In my hometown, I am the first Opera singer who makes a living from singing. I am doing this for the first time and I plan to remain an inspiration for young women in general.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Through my company, I not only plan to create work opportunities for myself, but to positively influence other people's lives. My purpose is to change people's lives through music, motivational talks, and master classes. I plan on being involved in outreach and educational programmes with various entities.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being able to achieve what I have always dreamt of. It fulfils me to know that I have touched somebody's life, that somebody's life has been changed for the better.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Life has no guarantees, find out what fulfils your soul, have a steadfast source of strength, and work hard to achieve what you feel is your purpose here on earth.
Contact or follow Nozuko Teto and her company, Adesso Enterprises (Pty) Ltd
Why LoA loves it….
There is something truly inspirational about those women entrepreneurs who take their incredible and unique talents and use them positively to enhance the lives of so many others. In the rarified and prestigious world of Opera, Nozuko Teto is an inspirational example of an African woman entrepreneur making waves in the music industry. She is not only sharing her considerable musical gift with the world, but also using that gift to create a successful business enterprise. Through her company, she is creating exciting, professional, global work opportunities for herself, whilst at the same time positively enhancing other people's lives and inspiring generations of young women in Africa who aspire to be just like her. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa