Kimmy Skota is a world-renowned opera singer, best known for her performances with acclaimed Dutch violinist Andre Rieu, which led to her touring and performing around the globe. She has won several awards, including at the SAMRO International Singing Competition in 2008. Her opera repertoire includes Gilda in Rigoletto, Tatjana in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Sophie in Werther, Kristine in Miss Julie, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte and Papagena in The Magic Flute. Her oratorio work includes The Messiah and The Creation. She also performed with Richard Cock in his Starlight Concert and Night at the Proms and has worked with internationally-renowned conductors including Kamal Khan and Sebastian Lang-Lessing. On October 22nd and 23rd, Kimmy will be performing in Cantiamo – Mzansi Opera Celebration, a performance which will reopen the Joburg Theatre, as well as being streamed online.
How are you doing in the midst of the pandemic?
I’m doing well, thanks! Grateful that I’m safe, strong and happy.
How has your career been impacted by lockdown and its restrictions?
I have to admit it was a shock, and lockdown has been one of the toughest experiences of my life. Unfortunately, it’s one of those cases that are far beyond human control. You just need to abide by the law and that’s it. It’s sad that the pandemic has affected the whole world and it feels like I’ve lost part of me because singing is my life, but I remain strong and will keep faith that all will be well in the end.
On October 22nd and 23rd you are performing alongside several other opera singers to reopen the Mandela Theatre with Cantiamo – Mzansi Opera Celebration. What has it been like to step back into performing again?
It’s more like a re-birth for me. I’m like a girl who lost her toy and then got it back. I’m grateful to Joburg Theatre and our artistic producer and director Marcus Desando for the opportunity. It’s a really engaging programme and it will, of course, be wonderful to perform live on stage again.
This year has seen many artists unable to do their work, how have the last few months changed you as a performer? What has been the biggest lesson you have learned about yourself?
That life is a mystery and only God knows what happens next. You have to embrace that mystery with happiness, and appreciate and value what you have. I felt like I was grounded and absolutely lost – now I know what that’s like. However, it was the best opportunity for me to embrace my faith like never before and also to do things that I never had time to do when I was so busy rehearsing and performing. I’m proud of myself because I didn’t panic at all, I had to accept the situation. But to avoid sinking into a depression I had to be busy, learning new skills, writing, reading and of course fitness at home. I learned that I can achieve a lot if I put more focus on achieving what I want. Lockdown taught me that really valuable lesson.
This celebration will be the first time Joburg Theatre audiences step back into the Mandela Theatre, what do you hope they take away from this show?
Nothing other than joy, love, peace and hope. These are all things you can take away from watching a live show. I’m hoping Cantiamo will have a huge impact on our audiences, either in the theatre or while watching a streamed show at home.
What safety regulations are being put in place to ensure artists and audiences are kept safe?
The theatre has a whole raft of regulations to make sure the artists, theatre staff and all their patrons are protected. Social distancing has to be maintained onstage and in the auditorium, there’s a limited seating capacity in the Mandela Theatre with 1.5 metres between patrons, there are sanitisers at every entry point, visors at the bars and the box office, and lots of screening and signage in place. And, of course, it’s strictly no mask, no entry!
The performance will also be available to view online following the two live performances. How do you feel about productions choosing to implement this method of viewing? Do you feel the performances are still able to transcend?
I’m happy about the new approach of filming more live performances because it means productions can reach people globally. I have a number of fans who regularly send messages asking when I’m going to be performing in their country, and streaming Cantiamo means anyone in the world can watch. It’s wonderful that we can showcase South African talent in this way and perhaps introduce some of our gifted local composers to a whole new audience overseas.
What can audience members do to support the arts right now?
Buying tickets, whether for live or online shows, really helps to support people working in the creative industries. If you’re in a position to support with some sponsorship that’s also really welcome. But seeing people live in the theatre on 22 and 23 October will be real, practical encouragement. I can’t wait!
What social media account or online platform should we all be following right now?
I’d love to be connected with more opera and classical music fans, I’m on Facebook and Instagram.
Cantiamo – Mzansi Opera Celebration will run at Joburg Theatre on Thursday 22 & Friday 23 October at 19:30 with streamed performances on 24 & 25 Oct at 19:30. Bookings can be made via joburgtheatre.com or Webtickets.
Special thanks to Fiona Walsh.
All photos supplied with permission.