Cape Town, South Africa
Zenobia Kloppers is an acclaimed Namibian-born South African-based singer, actress, voice artist, and writer. She is well known for her versatility as a performer, with numerous roles depicted in stage, music and radio theatre productions, showcasing her God-given talent in theatres, at arts festivals, on television, and on radio airwaves in South Africa, Namibia and abroad.
"Zenobia Kloppers proves the kingpin -- or is it queen? [...] with a voice trained for opera but perfectly at home in humbler musical tasks; she also shines in dramatic sketches and dance" - Peter Byrne, Swans Commentary.
Zenobia studied Opera and Lieder at the University of Stellenbosch (US) Conservatoire of Music and University of Cape Town (UCT) Music College, graduating with a Performer’s Licentiate in Music (2000) for Opera and Lieder.
She received her Performer's Diploma in Acting (1997) at the UCT Drama School, and also studied Drama, Physical Theatre and Movement at the US Drama Department (1998). Further performance training and studies include Diction and Presentation and Stagecraft and Movement at the UCT Music College (1996). Zenobia also holds a BSocSci Degree in Public Administration (1994) from the University of Cape Town.
Zenobia's classical voice training spans a period of more than 20 years. At the age of five, Zenobia knew that she wanted to be a singer. At the age of twelve, after watching a documentary series on Dame Nellie Melba (1861– 1931), an Australian operatic soprano who became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian Era and the early 20th century, Zenobia decided that she wanted to be classical singer.
In 1989, at the tender age of 16, Zenobia began her formal classical voice training. She studied with some of South Africa’s top singing teachers, such as Jean Stuart, Petrus van Heerden, Wendy Fine, and Désirée Talbot, among others. After the passing of her beloved friend and mentor, Jean Stuart (Mezzo-Soprano) in 2012, Zenobia is taking her vocal training to further heights with Jean's long-time friend, Nicola Cencherle (Lirico-Spinto Tenor).
As a US and UCT opera student, Zenobia was cast in various student opera productions, such as Die Zauberflöte (2000, as The Queen of the Night, directed by Christine Crouse); Il Matrimonio Segretto (1996, as Carolina, directed by Christine Crouse); Hansel und Gretel (1996, as Gretel and The Sandman, directed by Angelo Gobbato); and The Impressario (1996, directed by Jean Stuart), among others.
Her debut performance in professional theatre was as one of the Maria’s in Hannes Muller and Didi Kriel’s Afrikaans musical Antjie Somers (2000), while she was still a student at the University of Stellenbosch (US) Conservatoire of Music. Upon completing her studies, Zenobia completed her first full-length drama, Klarabelle gaan Kaaptoe (2002). She performed the title role of "Klarabelle" in Klarabelle gaan Kaaptoe (2002-2003), directed by Monique Seigels. She received critical acclaim for her portrayal, and performed at all the major arts festivals in South Africa, as well as a successful run at Artscape (Arena Theatre) and the Baxter (Studio Theatre).
She portrayed Ouma Dina in Sonne Skaamte (2002,) directed by Janice Honeyman, and staged as a PlayGround performed reading. In 2003 she created the role of the female lead in Randall Wicomb’s music production Oos Wes Tuis Bes (2003-2004), directed by Johan Rademan. She recorded the vocals for this role on the CD by the same title.
Zenobia was cast as "Salieri's Cook" in Peter Shaffer`s smash hit play Amadeus (2006) directed by Lara Foot Newton, and performed alongside three-time Tony-nominated actor, Brian Murray. Shortly thereafter, Zenobia created the role of "Dinah" in Kramer-Petersen’s award winning hit musical Ghoema (SA Run, 2005-2006) and Spice Drum Beat: Ghoema (London Run, 2006-2007) and performed to critical acclaim. For this role she received a 2006 Naledi Theatre Award nomination for Best Female Lead in a Musical, and a 2006 Fleur du Cap nomination for Best Performance in a Musical (Group). She recorded the vocals for this role on the CD by the same title, as well as the performance on DVD.
Zenobia has portrayed iconic leading roles, notably, "Fiela" in Fiela se Kind (2007) directed by Sandra Prinsloo; and "Saartjie Baartman" in Braam van der Vyver’s Sarah (2006) – the tragic story about the “first” Hottentot-Venus, directed by Anthony Wilson. Her performance as “Poppie” in Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena for RSG Radio Drama is critically acclaimed. The recent rebroadcast of this play attracted the largest listening audience in 75 years on RSG.
Other notable performances include: "Ouma Ruby/Ouma Mollie" in Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2007) directed by Janice Honeyman; Broadway Babies (2007-2008), directed by Fred Abrahamse; and Die Kaapse Kabaret (2009), directed by Juanita Swanepoel for Die Suidoosterfees and KKNK. Her dark cabaret revue, Black & Blue (2007), directed by Monique Seigels, was hailed by Die Burger as “jewel of a program” – Die Burger.
In 2008 Zenobia returned to her publishing company, SeiKlo Publishers, which she started in 2004 with her long-time partner and friend, writer/director Monique Antigone Seigels. She has been keeping busy writing and developing handbooks, study guides and readers for Afrikaans and English literature and film study specifically geared towards high schools. Zenobia works prolifically in radio dramas (for RSG) and is currently also working on her debut solo CD.
"Singing is a spiritual experience. I want to share that experience with people.” - Zenobia Kloppers