Rising bass Simon Shibambu recently graduated from the Royal College of Music, and in 2017 enters his second season as a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Shibambu studied vocal arts at Tshwane University of Technology and vocal performance at the RCM with Graeme Broadbent, as an Association Board of the Royal Schools of Music scholar supported by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and Minerva Trust. In competition, he won first prize in the Amazwi Omzansi Africa Opera Singing Competition, first prize and audience prize at the Clonter Opera Competition, and an International Opera Awards Bursary.
The 2017⁄18 season brings a host of new roles for Shibambu at the Royal Opera house. He can be seen as Second Armed Man Die Zauberflote, Le Sire de Bethune Les Vespres Siciliennes, Ghost of Nino Semiramide under Antonio Pappano, Ceprano Rigoletto, Angelotti Tosca, Doctor Macbeth, Sentry Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Fourth Brabantian Noble in David Alden’s new production of Lohengrin.
In August 2016, Shibambu participated in the prestigious Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival, where he was featured as Naval Captain in Puccini Manon Lescaut alongside Anna Netrebko and conducted by Marco Armiliato, and as Palémon in Massenet Thaïs, sharing the stage with Plácido Domingo. As a young artist with the Royal Opera House in the 2016⁄17 season, Shibambu was cast as Quinault in David McVicar’s production of Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur, Flemish Deputy in Verdi Don Carlo, and Montano in Verdi Otello under the baton of Antonio Pappano. He also sang Toante in the Jette Parker production of Handel Oreste at Wilton’s Music Hall. A 2015 recipient of the Opera Awards Bursary, he has appeared in recital for the Opera Awards Foundation.
Previous highlights include King of Scotland in Handel Ariodante for the London Handel Festival at the Barbican, under the musical direction of Laurence Cummings, where Shibambu was praised by the Guardian for his “huge, resonant tone”. At the RCM, he performed Sarastro and Speaker of the Temple in Mozart Die Zauberflöte, Leporello in Mozart Don Giovanni and Méphistophélès in Gounod Faust. Concert performances include Mozart Requiem, Rossini Petite Messe solennelle, Puccini Messa di Gloria, Gounod Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile and Verdi Requiem.
While studying at RCM, Shibambu was chosen to sing for the First Lady of China during her visit to London, as well as for HRH the Prince of Wales during a visit to the College. In March 2016, he was also selected to perform for Her Majesty the Queen during the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, which was broadcast on the BBC.