Born in the Cape Flats of South Africa, Smelo Mahlangu is a promising young bass-baritone. He studied at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, where he sang the role of Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte in collaboration with Cape Town Opera in 2020. In 2021, he won 1st prize and the audience prize in the Schock Foundation Singing Competition. Additionally, he performed as Georges Cuvier in the world premiere of Hendrick Hoffmeyr’s opera Sara Bartmaan, earning a nomination for Best South African opera performer at the 2022 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards.
Smelo was a 2022/23 Young Artist at the National Opera Studio. During his time at the Studio, he made his Wigmore Hall debut and performed excerpts from various roles, including Doctor Dulcamara L’elisir d’amore, Doctor The Vanishing Bridegroom where he was praised for his 'particularly persuasive performance' (Planet Hugill), Neil Armstrong in Steven Mackey’s Moon Tea, Rocco Fidelio, and Selim Il turco in Italia. He also had the privilege of participating in a masterclass with Gerald Finley.
Earlier this year, Smelo featured in OperaVision’s Operatunity, a four-part series highlighting the stories of young opera singers from diverse backgrounds in South Africa. He spent the summer on scholarship at Oxenfoord International Summer School in Scotland, where he participated in masterclasses with Dame Ann Murray and Joan Rodgers. Additionally, he rehearsed for a film production of La Traviata by OperaGlass Works, conducted by Richard Hetherington, in which he sang the role Marchese d’Obigny.
Updated October 2023. This biography should not be reproduced without asking permission from the National Opera Studio.