The “powerful bass-baritone” (Wall Street Journal) Musa Ngqungwana​, a native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa,​ has been lauded by The New York Times for his “rich, glowing voice and elegant legato,” while the The Arts Desk describes him as having “striking stage presence and a dignity that never falters”.

In the 2023-2024 season, the “standout performer” (The Times) returns to the Royal Danish Opera for Verdi’s Aida, portraying King Amonasro, after making his house debut last season. Musa also sings Don Bartolo in two productions of Rossini’s comedic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, first at Pittsburgh Opera and then at North Carolina Opera. In concert, he appears with the New World Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

In the previous season, Musa’s engagements took him to the Royal Danish Opera for his house debut as Amonasro in Aida (“there are many fine people, with Musa Ngqungwana [...] being the very finest”, Berlingske); Austin Opera as Don Bartolo in The Barber of Seville; Florentine Opera as Count Capulet in Roméo et Juliette; and On Site Opera as King Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors.

A versatile performer, Musa has been recognized for his talent in both dramatic and lighter roles, his portrayals described as being “played with anguished magnificence” (The Guardian) as well as “brilliantly comedic” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Musa has received particular critical acclaim for his portrayal of the title role in Porgy and Bess, appearing at the Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National, Atlanta, Grange Park, and Malmö Operas, and with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra as well as the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. Financial Times praised his Porgy, writing “his rich bass-baritone plumbs depths of feeling in a moving portrayal”, while Opera Today described him as “a force of nature [...] with a voice of such jaw-dropping beauty, richness, and power”.

Possessing a voice hailed as “gorgeously resonant” (Limelight Magazine), favorite highlights of recent seasons include singing Vodnik in Rusalka at Garsington Opera and Edinburgh International Festival; Lord Krishna in Satyagraha at English National Opera; Intolleranza 1960 at Salzburg Festival; Fidelio at the Austin Opera; Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love at Palm Beach Opera; and I Puritani at Washington Concert Opera.

Musa’s repertoire additionally includes the role of Queequeg in Moby Dick (Los Angeles, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Utah Operas); Zuniga in Carmen (Philadelphia, Norwegian National, and Palm Beach Operas); Angelotti in Tosca (Canadian Opera Company); Gottardo in La g​azza ladra​ (Glimmerglass Festival); and Colline in La bohème as well as Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars (Washington National Opera).

The bass-baritone has been featured in concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra; Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s Songfest on its Opening Night concert; and as Pythéas in Sapho with Washington Concert Opera, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and U.S. Naval Academy, plus the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Nominated in 2014 for the Marian Anderson Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC., Musa was the Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2013.

Musa graduated with Honors in Performance (First Class) from the University of Cape Town and is a graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. He is the author of the memoir Odyssey of an African Opera Singer, which was published by Penguin Random House South Africa.

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