Alene Mari Holder
Alene Mari Holder attained her BA in Music degree (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University. She attained her BMus Honours degree (cum laude) at the same institution, specialising in solo vocal performance under the tutelage of Minette du Toit-Pearce, and researching the Afrikaans art song under the supervision of Dr. Carina Venter. Her other academic interests include feminist studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century opera. In 2020 she presented a conference paper at the SASRIM-Conference (South African Society for Research in Music), offering a feminist perspective on performing repertoire from the operatic trouser role tradition. She completed her MMus degree with merit at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, England, where she researched Francesca Caccini’s opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (1625) under the supervision of Prof. Robert Rawson. In 2022 she assumed the position of PhD Fellow for the research project 'Women, Opera and the Public Stage in Eighteenth-Century Venice' (WoVen) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Her research, supervised by Prof. Melania Bucciarelli, focuses on cross-gender casting in Antonio Vivaldi’s operas at the Teatro San Angelo in Venice, and how this phenomenon of women playing the roles of powerful and heroic men on stage articulated with the proto-feminist debates that were taking place in Venice at the time.
As a classical singer (mezzo-soprano), Holder frequently performs in recitals, church services and operatic works. Her artistic interests include the Afrikaans art song, sacred music, repertoire from the operatic trouser role tradition, as well as investigating opera’s potential for inspiring social transformation. In 2019 she presented a lecture recital titled En Travesti, which explored the trouser role’s potential for challenging traditional gender binaries. She has participated as a chorus member in Cape Town Opera’s production of The Fairy Queen and ASL Opera’s Die Fledermaus, and has performed solo recitals in Stellenbosch, South Africa and Gaborone, Botswana. In August 2021 she produced and performed in a small-scale opera titled Orphea, based on C.W. Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. For this production, she sang the role of Orphea, a female interpretation of Gluck’s Orpheus.
As an Afrikaans novelist and poet, Holder often combines her passion for music with her passion for literature. She compiled a script for the Orphea production by incorporating poems by the Afrikaans poet I.D. du Plessis and extracts from Ovid’s telling of the Orpheus myth. Music, and especially opera, is a returning theme and a constant inspiration in her novels and poetry.