From HR to opera – an inspirational journey

25 March 2024 | Story Nicole Forrest. Photo Supplied. Read time 7 min.
Luvo Maranti
Luvo Maranti

Music has always been a part of Luvo Maranti’s life, but he had never imagined that it would become his career – or just how successful he would be in pursuing it. This year, he has been named one of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) inspirational graduates for his outstanding achievements in the field.

Born in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape to a family of musos, Luvo was surrounded by music and singing throughout his early life. His interest in opera, in particular, was sparked when he was just eight years old.

“I started to get into opera when I was about eight – probably between the ages of eight and twelve. My father bought me a CD, Pavarotti & Friends. It was a mixture of all of the collaborations that Pavarotti had done – from The Three Tenors to Celine Dion. I immediately fell in love with the music and started trying to mimic Pavarotti,” he recalled.

It was clear from the outset that Luvo had an incredible vocal talent, but this didn’t necessarily come as a surprise to his loved ones. According to the tenor, he’s far from being the only singer in the Maranti family.

“Everyone in my family is a singer. My grandfather used to pull out big banners of sheet music, and my grandmother and I would decide which of us would sing the alto and who would sing the soprano. Then everyone else would fill in the tenor and base,” he said.

“My father is also a composer, singer and conductor for the church. He was a tenor, like me – a very good one at that – but he was more focused on making and composing music than on singing.”

The background music to his life

Despite his musical heritage and his passion for singing when the time came to start applying for university, Luvo chose to pursue human resources (HR) management as his field of study. However, his love for music never waned.

When he arrived at the University of Fort Hare in 2014, he joined the choir. Considering all his subsequent achievements, this time stands out as a highlight in his career.

“We won a lot of championships during my time. There’s a competition hosted by SATICA [South African Tertiary Institution Choral Association], which is the holy grail for university choirs, and we won that award for a few years in a row. So, the work we did there really took me to another stage of understanding in terms of opera,” he said.

After university, when Luvo moved to Hermanus with his family and began working for abalone producer Abagold, opera remained the soundtrack to his life. Slowly but surely, though, the arias became more and more difficult to pass off as background music.

“After my family moved down to Hermanus for my father’s work and I’d completed my studies, I moved down too and started an HR internship at Abagold. I really, really enjoyed my time there, but I always felt like there was something missing,” he explained.

Fortunately for Luvo, his passion for opera and his longstanding involvement in choirs across the country were about to come together to create an opportunity the likes of which he would never have dreamed of.

Harmonising passion and profession

After performing with the Abagold choir at the Hermanus Fynarts Festival in 2018, Luvo took part in a masterclass where he met the now late George Stevens. After singing for the then acting director of UCT’s Opera School, Luvo was immediately invited to join the opera programme.

“My former HR director bought me tickets to the masterclass and told me to prepare a piece to present. I was hesitant, but in the end, I decided to do it, so I prepared and I sang. Afterwards, I spoke with George and he asked me if I wanted to do a programme at UCT,” Luvo recalled.

The rest, as they say, is history. Since joining UCT Opera in 2019, the young tenor has made an indelible mark on South African opera – an achievement that’s especially impressive considering the difficulties the industry faced during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.


“One of my highlights was winning the Voices of South Africa International Opera Singing Competition during lockdown.”

“One of my highlights was winning the Voices of South Africa International Opera Singing Competition during lockdown. The whole competition was a great opportunity, because I started connecting with people who are supporters and patrons of opera in South Africa and, specifically, Cape Town,” he explained.

For Luvo, two moments in his already notable career stand out above the rest: taking part in the Operalia Competition and performing around the globe; particularly in the birthplace of opera, Italy.

“My fondest memory is definitely being part of the Operalia Competition, which was held in South Africa last year. I’ve followed the competition since I was at Fort Hare, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d ever be a part of it.

“Going abroad has also been a highlight. I sang the role of Rinuccio from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini in Italy in 2022, which was just incredible because that’s the Holy Grail of everything opera. I also sang the role of Hoffman from The Tales of Hoffmann in the United States and Italy in 2023,” he said.

Far from a finale

As Luvo’s career continues to go from strength to strength, he’s determined to ensure that opera gets the attention it deserves in South Africa.

Part of doing this involves enabling young artists from all disciplines to break into the often-insular industry. Something that he and the Abagold Development Trust are helping to facilitate through the Luvo Maranti Scholarship.

As his time at UCT draws to a close, Luvo reflects with gratitude on the education and opportunities that he’s received during his time at the institution. Although, he notes, he will be back.

“It’s been an honour to be part of such a profound institution – and I’m not saying that just because I’m leaving; I definitely want to come back. I have never felt more safe and more secure and more supported in harnessing my talent and becoming more,” he said.

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