Biography

Stéfan Louw is recognised as one of South Africa’s best tenors and has been performing opera since 1999.  The Sunday Times newspaper wrote of his Rodolfo (2005) that his voice should be declared a national treasure.

His opera career started off in 1995 as a member of the Pretoria State Theatre Ad-hoc Opera Chorus and only a year after joining the chorus, received the Chorister of the Year Award.  During the five years he was a member of the Opera Chorus he sang in more than 20 productions.

In 1999 Stéfan made his supporting-role debut as Beppe in I Pagliacci, for which he received the prestigious FNB Vita Opera Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Since then Stéfan made a living singing opera and his repertoire includes but is not limited the roles of Alfredo in La Traviata, Barinkay in Der Zigeunerbaron, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Duncan in Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Tebaldo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Tonio in La Fille du Regiment, Pang in Turandot, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Radames in Aïda, Don José in Carmen, Rodolfo in La Boheme and the name role in Werther.

Stéfan has also performed the tenor solo roles of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Petite Messe Solenelle, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Missa solemnis as well as Dvorak’s Mass in D-major at numerous occasions throughout South Africa and Namibia.

In September 2008 he made his international debut as Pollione in Norma at the Vichy Opera in France, followed by Radames in Aïda at the Dijon Opera in France in December of the same year.

For his role as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Cape Town Opera (2009) Norman McFarlane of the Kunste Bolander wrote that Stéfan invested himself in the role in such a way that his unlikeable character was the talk on more than one occasion during the short intermission.  He (McFarlane) believes that this is an affirmation of the skill with which Louw acquits himself of the role.

In 2010 Louw embarked on producing a series of concerts whereby he aims to bring true opera aficionados a measure of quality, whilst at the same time encouraging new audiences to appreciate true opera.  The Aria! Opera for Everyone series of concerts has become a popular evening out for lovers of classical music and traditional Italian songs.

Louw is also the founder of two of Gauteng’s opera companies:  Sempre Opera and Big Wig Opera, the former being managed by Pretoria-based artists while Louw is involved with the latter as artistic director and chorus master.  Big Wig Opera has successfully produced three full operas – La Bohème, L’elisir d’amore and Madama Butterfly – in its first year of operations (2015) of which Louw performed in one and directed two.  Louw is particularly proud of the all-African cast showcased in Madama Butterfly proving that the country has a rich talent pool for opera.

In March 2019 Louw performed his solo show at the Wakkerstroom Music Festival to great acclaim. And in December 2019 he performed the role of Alfredo in a privately commissioned production of the opera La Traviata at the Birdsong Theatre in Stilbaai. He also released his second album, Lirico – A collection of lyrical tenor arias, in 2019.

With more than 1,000 performances behind his name, Louw is a well-known face on opera stages and a sought-after vocal coach.

In 2020, he started doing solo performances at private events like birthday and engagement parties to raise funds for his wife’s breast cancer treatment. She was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in August 2019 and has been on treatment, that included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and hormone-blocking therapy.