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Learning German as a matter of mind, heart and opera

The South-African tenor Levy Sekgapane sings at the Chemnitz Opera House and learns German at TU Chemnitz at the Professorship of German as a Foreign/Second Language

“Heute sind wir eifrig” says operatic tenor Levy Sekgapane after his German lesson with Coretta Storz, student assistant at the Professorship for German as a Foreign/Second Language. The tenor has just encountered the word eifrig (English: busy) in an aria from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio he is rehearsing as a soloist during his current three months’ engagement at the Chemnitz Opera House. In addition to the Christmas Oratorio, he is also preparing the role of Prince Ramiro in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” opening in Chemnitz on 29th of November 2014 at 7:30 p.m. In 2015 Mr Sekgapane will be back in Chemnitz for the staging of Parzival. “I like this city very much. Its history is fascinating and there are many nice cafés,” Mr Sekgapane says, who started learning German in South Africa. “I am thrilled with German. All my favorite composers are German or Austrian: Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. To be a soloist in the Christmas Oratorio is magnificent.”

Mr Sekgapane, a postgraduate student of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, is studying the meaning and pronunciation of the text of Bach’s arias with his teacher Coretta Storz. “We are both great admirers of Bach and are inspired by the rendition of his arias. After intensive training in phonetics, Levy pronounces the german words almost perfectly, and for expressive singing it is essential to understand what you sing,” says Coretta Storz, who is completing her MA in German as a Foreign/Second Language. “It was Professor Thielmann who approached me with this interesting challenge. It is great to be able to fuse my theoretical knowledge about language and language acquisition, my joy of teaching, and my enthusiasm for music,” says Storz who teaches the tenor privately twice a week. “This is a fine example of the many ways in which the School of Humanities at TU Chemnitz reaches out into the community,” says Prof. Thielmann and adds: “Once again we are supported by the Society of Friends of the TU Chemnitz.”

”I very much enjoy German classes, especially when we talk about music. However, grammar is also important. Furthermore, we play some crazy language games,” Sekgapane says. When asked about his favourite German word, he responds immediately: “Unbedingt (absolutely)!”

(Source: Professorship of German as a Foreign/Second Language)

Mario Steinebach
25.11.2014

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