Interview with Levy Sekgapane: winner of the Montserrat Caballé Singing competition
The ones who were there say that when Montserrat Caballé heard him sing, she was thrilled. He had just won the first prize at the Hans Belvedere International Competition in Amsterdam in August-as well as all competitions in South Africa, his native country- and he definitely proved to be the young opera promise of the moment by winning as well the Montserrat Caballé International Competition in Zaragoza. And he is just 25 years old.
The contest organization said of him that “he stood out from the beginning thanks to an easy, well-pitched, fresh and very communicative, melodious voice with enviable ease and a very attractive and distinctive color. (…) He addressed the aria “Languir per una Bella” from Rossini’s Italiana in Algeri, impeccable, expansive and with an enviable technique; he totally sounded like a traditional Rossini tenor. “
At the Sauce Hotel, we were honored to hear him singing and happilyhumming when he came down to have breakfast or returned to his room after going out for some tapas to the neighboring Tubo. Before traveling back to Germany -where he lives since about a year ago- to play a role in the Barber of Seville in Munich´s Monchengladbach, we chatted a bit with him about his experience in Zaragoza, his past and his promising future.
I need to feel good energy when I open the door of a hotel room. Otherwise, I leave. I opened the door of Sauce Hotel room… and I dived in on the bed!
First, the International Belvedere Competition in Amsterdam, and now the Montserrat Caballé in Zaragoza.Two in one month. Did you plan for it? Did you expect it?
Everything has been a little bit crazy. While in Amsterdam, a Greek singer colleague told me about Zaragoza contest one day before the registration period was over.I sent all the documents as fast as I could, and then I won the Amsterdam contest. I was offered work in Germany, so I thought the best I could do was to go back and start working, but then I got the letter from Montserrat Caballé congratulating me for being admitted to the competition in Zaragoza, so I decided to come. And I won again!
Have you met Montserrat Caballe? How is she like?
After winning, we sat and we talked a lot about life, singing, etc… She is a lovely and very warm lady. She is like my grandmother!
When and how did you start singing?
When I was a child I had a strong voice and everybody used to tell me that I would be like Pavarotti. I started listening to Italian operas and singing with passion, even if I invented the lyrics, and then I joined a choir. I also played football and I was good, but I have to be the best at what I do, and I realized that I couldn´t be the captain of the team that I liked; however, I could actually be the best at the choir. So I chose to sing. I then started to like playing the piano, so I entered a music school because I wanted to play while singing. But my skill with the piano was overrun by my singing ability, so my teacher told me to leave the piano and to concentrate on singing, so I switched to an opera school.
You’re a young singer … Does singing help with girls?
Yes, of course! Although today I was walking and singing behind a beautiful girl on the street, and she turned her head to look at me, but then she left… It didn´t work… But in South Africa it does work. It even works for my family as well!
What kind of music does an opera singer listen to at home or when he goes out?
I only listen to opera and to gospel; if I go out, I look for house music clubs.
How was your arrival to the Sauce Hotel?
It was great. I had booked a room in a hostel for the first days in Zaragoza, but as I opened the door of the room I thought: “I´m not staying here”. I got into another one that I didn´t like very much either. I had to cover myself with a filthy blanket and got up the next day full of beaks. I need to feel good energy when I open the door of a room in a hotel. If I don´t feel it, I leave. I didn´t have a good feeling when I opened the door of the one with the blanket, but it was already dark when I found it. Then, when I reached the semifinals, I came to the Sauce; the hotel where the direction of the contest was hosting the finalists, and it was like reaching an oasis.
What happened when you opened the door to your room in the Sauce Hotel?
I dived in on the bed! Then I went to the cafeteria, MiHabitaciónFavorita, and I was amazed with the coffee. I take a lot of coffees a day wherever I go and I have never taken one as good as the one served here.
What do you think about Zaragoza hospitality?
Zaragoza people are amazing. The first day I was looking for the concert hall and could not find it. I asked a man in the street who did not speak a word of English, but he looked in his mobile for a translator, then found the google maps and finally walked me to the site. Whenever I have asked for help or needed anything, they have been so helpful!This doesn´t happen in other countries in Europe!
Tags: hotel zaragoza, hotel zaragoza center, hotel Zaragoza el pilar, Montserrat Caballé International Competition Zaragoza, music zaragoza, singing contest caballe, singing contest zaragoza, zaragoza auditorium