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First off, Siphiwe – what does it mean? And how do you pronounce this name?

Siphiwe is a Swahili name from central Africa and means “we have been given”. It is pronounced “Si-PEE-way”: the stress is on the second syllable, similar to the way you would pronounce “freeway”.


I was born in Vancouver, Canada to a French Canadian mother and a Jamaican father, and the name was given to me by a friend of my parents' from South Africa. It took my mother a week to learn how to pronounce it. Our family is somewhat of a United Nations melting pot -- various family members have backgrounds including Chinese, Spanish, Celtic, Belgian, Sri Lankan, Scottish and Native Indian roots. To make our family tree look even more colorful, my mother remarried Dr. Chuen Ping Lau in 2001; my step-father was born in Hong Kong.


I always sang as a child and it became rapidly clear that I was more apt to the arts than to the sciences. So I started off singing in children's choirs and simultaneously took voice lessons once a week. I was quite active as a child and teenager, and (as well as being an avid runner) was busy after school having lessons in music theory and history, piano, ballet, and singing. I subsequently also became very interested in acting, and when later exploring what I wanted to do with my life, my mother suggested that perhaps opera would be an interesting way of combining my gift for song and the stage. And voilà, that was how it all started!


I grew up in a haven of culinary activity. Both my parents were fabulous cooks and I quickly inherited from them this wonderful passion and hobby. I spend a large part of my spare time on the road and at home in the kitchen, or in book stores collecting cool and rare cook books. Food is an important part of my life; I love to create art in the kitchen, and it is in many ways a form of meditation for me. If I didn't sing I think I would have probably become a chef!


While I am cooking I usually listen to music to inspire my taste buds. I simply love listening to not just opera, but all kinds of music,. When I'm cooking or just lounging around I listen to Jazz, Techno, Dance, Chill Out, Arabic, Middle Eastern, Bollywood,Flamenco, Brazilian, Cuban … just about anything and everything that has a beat!

To burn off my passion for food I do a lot of running and power walking, but of course I will never say no to an invitation to go out on the dance floor for a hot samba. Don't get me wrong --I have a lot of energy, but also need to recharge my batteries, so I like to read and watch films in my quiet time. And of course, as previously mentioned, cooking gives me solace and a sense of relaxation and peace.

In 2006 I moved to the wonderful city of music, Vienna, and since then have made it my home base. 

I hope you enjoy this site and don't hesitate to contact me at sipopera@gmail.com.

All the best,