In I Live to Sing, three opera students from the University of Cape Town pursue singing careers in South Africa, Europe and New York. Explore highlights of the film with these photos by Rich White and Alex Lowther.
University of Cape Town students performing The Tales of Hoffmann. Tenor Makudupanyane Senaoana in the opening scene, set in a bar. He told us he felt "quite equipped" to play the role of a raucus, partying student.
Bass-baritone Thesele Kemane visiting Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Thesele isn't very interested in politics, still he was moved seeing the tiny cell where Mandela spent so many years. "I appreciate what Mandela and the others went through," he said. "The world would be a different place if it wasn't for their hard work."
A highlight of Thesele's visit to New York was his performance at the UN General Assembly on Nelson Mandela's birthday in 2012. "I thought of the opportunities we didn't have then and the opportunities we have now," he said. "It was an unbelievable experience for me."
Kamal Khan, an American who has worked as James Levine's assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera, now leads the opera program at UCT. On the afternoon of a Hoffmann performance, he coaches Linda Nteleza as she warms up for her role of Antonia. It was one of the most intense coaching sessions we saw during six months of shooting.
We had a great visit with Linda's family in Khayelitsha, the township where they live on the outskirts of Cape Town. Her little brother Sipho, dressed in red, told us he recently returned from his circumcision ceremony and will wear the cap for a year to mark the occasion.
Thesele's parents watching him perform in an opera for the first time. After he completed his opening piece they gave him the most enthusiastic standing ovation we've ever seen. His mom ululated and his dad shouted praise in Sotho, their first language.
Linda as Antonia singing "Elle a Fui," an aria about the death of Antonia's mother. It was especially emotional for Linda because her own mom died soon after she started studying opera. "The character is feeling sad and lonely and missing her mother," Linda says "I can relate well on that one."