Phantom draws on wealth of local singing talent for important roles

Several former members of Cape Town Opera have been selected for significant roles in the forthcoming production of Phantom of the Opera which opens at Artscape next month.

The part of Christine, the lead female role, will be sung by Lana English who until October was a member of the Cape Town Opera Vocal Ensemble and sang in recent productions such as Aida, Nabucco and Faust.

English trained under Vetta Wise and Andrea Catzel but remained a dental nurse for 12 years before joining the Vocal Ensemble in 2002.

The part of Piangi will be sung by tenor Marcus Desando whose career has included operas, concerts, oratorio and musical theatre.

Desando was a member of CTO Studio from 1994 to 1996 before becoming a freelance soloist in 1997. He was appointed as staff director to Cape Town Opera where he made his directorial debut with Aeneas and Dido in 2001.

More recently, he has been singing the role of “Old Deuteronomy” in the world tour production of the musical Cats.

Singing opposite Desando in the role of Carlotta is another former member of CTO Studio, Pauline du Plessis. Du Plessis studied under Eric Muller at the Pretoria Technikon Opera School where she received the Pretorium Trust Bursary for Best Student before being invited to join the CTO Studio in 1995.

She sang in several productions, including La Boheme, Die Fledermaus and Rigolleto, before leaving for England where she sang with a number of opera companies and then toured Europe, Australia and the US with the Broomhill Opera before returning to South Africa.

Also singing in Phantom is the well-known local tenor Matthew Overmeyer who had his first real test as a soloist in singing Ferrando in the recent CTO production of Mozart’s comic opera Cosi fan Tutte.

Born in Bishop Lavis, Overmeyer began singing in church choirs but he pursued a business career before starting singing lessons in 2000. He then joined Cape Town Opera Studio in 2001 and his singing career has moved quickly, with parts in many recent CTO productions, including Lucia di Lammermoor, Pagliacci, Pearl Fishers and Nabucco.

Other former associates of CTO singing in Phantom are Jennifer West (neé Hartman) singing the part of Confidante and Elizabeth Richelmann as a dancer and the Wild Woman.

West and Richelmann were singers in the permanent and ad hoc choruses of the CTO Vocal Ensemble from 1982 and 1977 respectively.

Other representatives are Sebastian Luyanda Zokoza and Nomasande Webu who were both members of the Sanlam Choral Training Programme who have sung in various recent CTO productions.There will be a special charity performance of Phantom on Sunday, April 4 at 5pm in aid of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and the Friends of Cape Town Opera on behalf of Cape Town Opera. Tickets are R360 each and can only be purchased from Pat McDonald. Call or fax 021 531 8261 or e-mail

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