has been instrumental in helping are George Stevens, now Head of Singing at UCT’s College of Music, and James Bhemgee, the City Council employee who went on to win the SA’s Got Talent competition.
She has also founded three singing groups, The Brilliant Baritones, The Terrific Tenors and The Fine Singers.
Fittingly, then, for someone who half suspected she had been forgotten, Wendy Fine was the deeply grateful recipient last week of the inaugural Western Cape government’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to arts and the opera genre.
The citation, which acknowledges that “this iconic opera singer” was “one of the first South African sopranos to have become an international opera star”, sums up a long and varied singing life by noting not only her “exceptional vocal versatility, excellent range and commanding stage presence” which enabled her to “perform a wide repertoire and grace opera houses around the world”, but her commitment to “nurturing singers and finding talent in our communities and taking them to the world”. Wendy Fine, it concludes, “is truly a remarkable South African and activist for the arts and the opera genre”.
Cape Town’s choral maestro Barry Smith said in a tribute to Fine: “If she were a British citizen she would have long ago been ‘Dame Wendy Fine’.”
He went on to recount how,