Avatar photo

By Zanele Mbengo


From Secunda to London: SA opera star triumphs in UK

Innocent Masuku's journey from Mpumalanga to UK's top talent show wows audience and judges alike.

Innocent Masuku’s sterling performance at Britain’s Got Talent is another display of the excellence showcased by South African creatives on international platforms, says Litha Mpondwana, spokesperson for minister of sport, arts and culture.

The stirring rendition of Lucio Dalla’s Caruso on the top UK TV show by 33-year-old opera singer Masuku, living in London, captivated judges and fans.

Among the fans was Masuku’s fiancée, who showed her excitement as she proudly said: “That’s my fiancé.”

‘Best opera singer’

Judge Amanda Holden said he was “the best opera singer” Britain’s Got Talent judges had ever seen in all their 17 years.

Masuku hails from Secunda in Mpumalanga. His journey in opera began with a notable portrayal of Crabman in Porgy and Bess in Argentina, as reported by Good Things.

ALSO READ: Afrikaans performing arts celebrated at 14th kykNET Fiesta Awards

He has achieved numerous milestones, including a merit award in the 2019 Samro competition and recognition from the Drake Calleja trust.

The opera singer has received prestigious scholarships and awards, such as the Oppenheimer International Scholarship and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust Study Award, which launched him onto international stages.

Masuku is also a member of the English National Opera, where he currently plays Count Almaviva in Barber of Seville.

Masuku’s performance praised

Samro Music praised Masuku and described his performance as dazzling. It said South Africans continued to captivate the world stage with their extraordinary talent.

Mpondwana said the department of sport, arts and culture strived to create an enabling environment for creatives locally and internationally and to grow and sustain the sector.

ALSO READ: Transforming the arts sector: Dr Ismail Mahomed breaking stereotypes

“This is important, as arts and culture is important in fostering national unity and social cohesion. With the department’s entities, work has been done from grassroots level, providing platforms and development opportunities to recognising legends and high achievers in cultural and creative sectors,” he said.

“The sector continues to shine with the country’s creatives receiving acclaim around the world. It is a special time for South African arts and culture, especially as we reflect on how much has been achieved in the sector in our 30 years of freedom,” Mpondwana said.

‘Lost for words’

After Masuku’s performance, judge Alesha Dixon said she was lost for words.

“I found that overwhelming, by the end of that song I felt like I was hit in the chest with this force that felt almost divine. This is your calling,” she said.

Masuku said the worst thing he heard about his career was someone telling him he “won’t get far with opera, so stop”.

ALSO READ: ‘Madiba’s legacy must be preserved,’ Kodwa says as auction of Mandela’s personal items looms

“I almost cried but had to contain myself because I can’t be crying on television,” Masuku said after his performance.

Actress Nirvana Nokwe reflected on her social media about her grandmother, Patty Masuku, who was an opera singer and was offered an opportunity in Europe by her mentor Madam Davia.

“She declined it because she was scared if Ma Davia died she would be all alone on foreign land. To see Innocent on that stage singing opera is magic beyond words,” she wrote.

Elevating the country’s reputation

Sports, Arts, and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa commended Masuku for elevating the country’s reputation on the show.

“South African creatives continue to raise the country’s flag high around the world. I congratulate Innocent on his sterling performance,” he said.


Despite Masuku receiving four votes from the judges, the audience and viewers shared disappointment on why he did not receive a golden buzzer.