Ex-PE baritone second in world singing competition

[caption id="attachment_40298" align="alignright" width="405"] HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES: Baritone singer Siyabulela Ntlale at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition finals in Germany. Picture: SUSANNE DIESNER[/caption]

A FORMER Ndzondelelo High School pupil who took second place at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Germany this week attributes his success to all the teachers who saw his potential and encouraged him.

Singer Siyabulela Ntlale, who grew up in Port Elizabeth and is now based in Cape Town, took four months to prepare for the competition on Sunday night.

When he moved to Cape Town, he started at the Fezeka SS High School, under teacher Phumelele Tsweu.

He was one of four South Africans to make it to the finals.

The 28-year-old baritone competed against opera singers from Spain, Russia, Iceland, Ireland, the US, France, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.

Ntlale said his interest in singing was harnessed by people who never gave up on him, and encouraged him from when he was in primary school.

"Teachers like Miss Poyo, Mrs Jam, Mr Rayi and Mr Manona and Mr Phezisa as my mentors at Sivuyiseni Primary School in KwaMagxaki; Nomonde Maphekula, from Ndzondelelo High and a few others recognised my talent and my love for music grew because of them."

He said the competition brought him great opportunities in the world of opera.

"It's a great honour to be singing for international opera directors, agents and big opera house managers from all over the world."

Ntlale started singing at Pendla Primary School in New Brighton.

When his family relocated to KwaMagxaki, he found a home in the choir at Sivuyiseni Intermediate School.

When he started high school, the talented singer was more focused on rugby, and also played for the Spring Rose team.

"But one student heard me singing in the class, and asked me to sing for the school choir.

"Music in that school was never fully supported, but I was easily seduced and got selected to sing as a soloist for the school at competitions. In 2001, I came third in the Tirisano school competition, and from then on I never stopped."

Ntlale then joined New Brighton choir Matthews Singers, which his teacher, Nomonde Maphekula, was part of.

When his family moved to Cape Town, he realised opera was his true calling and after matric auditioned for a place at the Cape Town Opera vocal ensemble under Peter Valentovic.

"We toured all over the world. In 2008, I met well-known opera directors and conductors, who suggested I go to the Opera School and build my talent."

Since then, the University of Cape Town Opera School of Music graduate has not looked back.

Ntlale, who is still in Germany with other South African finalists in the competition Owen Metsileng, Khanyiso Gwenxane and Linda Nteleza, said while entering was not about money, the prize would make it easier to enter other competitions.

He walked away with 3500 Euro (about R51000) as well as four other special prizes. - Thulani Gqirana