Artist of the Week: Vuvu Mpofu

South African Soprano Makes Role debut in ‘Breaking the Waves’

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Richard Hubert Smith)

On Sept. 18, Switzerland’s Theater St. Gallen will open a new production of Missy Mazzoli‘s 2016 “Breaking the Waves,” one of the most acclaimed operas of recent years. This run of performances will mark the first time the country presents the work, which will bring a cast of rising stars including Vuvu Mpofu.

Mpofu will interpret the lead character of Bess McNeill for the first time, becoming the first woman of color to sing the role. It will also mark her first engagement with the Theater as an ensemble member where she will sing numerous productions this season.

Speaking to OperaWire about the role the soprano said, “This part is unlike anything I ever thought I might be offered! Vocally it’s a joy – what an honor to sing Missy Mazzoli’s music. The role I sing – Bess – is just extraordinary: the depth and courage of this woman, the love she feels; the passion she discovers and the fear she has – it’s all there! Bess is a three dimensional operatic heroine for the 21st Century opera. Working with Melly Still – our director – has made me realize how much is actually possible onstage – it has been a completely liberating experience.”

She added, “It has been a very special experience, and the joy of being back at work, well – it’s a very special feeling! Equally special though is that we can bring ‘Breaking the Waves’ to a mainland European audience for the first time!”

An acclaimed coloratura, Mpofu is an award-winning soprano who has received the prestigious John Christie Award at the Glyndebourne Festival, and she is also a recent prizewinner at the Operalia Competition and the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition. Critics have raved about the soprano’s vocal ability and noted, her “vocal talent is immense” and “she is one in a million.”

She has performed with the Seattle Opera, Cape Town Opera, Glyndebourne, Vlaamse Oper, Musikfest Berlin, Oper Köln, and Bayerische Staatsoper. Her diverse repertoire repertoire includes the works of Puccini, Mozart, Donizetti, Bizet, and Verdi.

For audiences not in Switzerland for the performance of “Break the Waves,” the soprano returns for a production of “La Traviata.” Mpofu will also sing a production of “La Bohème” at the Opera Vlaanderen and Glyndebourne Festival.


For those not familiar with Mpofu’s voice here are clips of the soprano singing for “La Traviata,” “Candide,” “Rigoletto,”


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