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Michael Renier (Botha) was born is South Africa, Umtata, Transkei on 4 September 1945. Growing up in the rural South African veldt He and a group of friends used to live a care free life of picking and eating wild Cactus Fruit (Prickly Pear) , riding bicycles between the cacti on tracks they shovelled themselves. Swim in the Umtata River which was a wide sandy river with a thin knee deep at most, stream running down the centre except during the rainy season, when it could become a dangerous torrent. They would rock climb on the steep sides of an abandoned gavel quarry in sunny Umtata which is only 50 miles from the Wild Coast of South Africa.
Michael had no exposure to Opera or opera singers, until he was struck, as he later said, as if by lightening, when he heard the American tenor, Jan Peerce singing on radio. When he saw Mario Lanza in the movie The Great Caruso, he remained in a dream awestruck state of mind, which lasted his entire life.
When he was 10 years old , they moved to Pretoria, where Michael was suddenly confronted by the exposure of real opera and opera singers. He made up his mind , that that is what he wanted to be, an Opera Singer. After high school, Michael had to do his year call up in the Army, where he joined the Military Police. During his conscripted military year, he and fellow soldiers used to have sing songs, with some of his friends playing guitaur. At the end of his military Service, he attended the Witwatersrand School of Optometry, where he met the very bright co student, Dawn Jeanette Sinclair, who would become his future wife. Michael left Optometry after 3 years and enrolled as a Medical Student at the University of Pretoria. Once again his voice came to the notice of fellow students, who bungled him into a car and took him to a voice teacher , Anna Elizabeth Pohl, who auditioned him and accepted him as a student. She instilled in him a drive to succeed. Not to let anything get in his way to fulfil his dream. Soon his whole world was turned upside down. He met the South African Diva, soprano Joyce Barker, who encouraged him to go to a proper Opera School abroad. Within two years of his first singing lesson, Michael and Dawn , now a fully qualified Ophthalmic Optician ( Optometrist), were married 7/2/70. They embarked on an adventure. Michael sent audition tapes to the London Opera Centre in London and they accepted him. He was awarded the Robert and Dorothy Mayer Scholarship (Anglo American ) and the London Opera Students fund. He realised he had to catch up and learn as everything was now new, at a tremendous pace. Most of the students attending the London Opera centre had previously been to opera schools or music academies. And were mostly bored. To them it was just a waiting of time to step into the opera world. To Michael it was all new. He lapped up every moment.
After three years at the London Opera Centre, Michael was offered a joint contract at The English National Opera, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, where he would be a junior , sing smaller roles while learning the lead roles. However British Actors EQUITY stepped in and prevented Michael from accepting all or any contracts. Being a South African in the 1970’s was considered a definite NO! Michael auditioned in Germany and was offered his first full time contract at the Ulmer Theater Ulm Donau in Germany 1978.
Michael lost his Dawn on 2 January 2014 after her battle with Breast Cancer. They would have celebrated their 44th Wedding Anniversary on 7/2/ 2014. They have two daughters: Lindi Renier Todd (1973) and Kim Jeanette Mathews (1982) 4 grand children. Lindi has two boys and Kim a girl and a boy.
Michael sang his last of his 117 Opera Premiers in 2010 and his last opera performance in 2012. Michael keeps busy, spending his time doing concerts, teaching and doing Master Classes. He has recorded a number CDs (NEXT MUSIC, South Africa and R a Disc, Toi Toi Toi Labels in Germany) has written his Biography 2016 “Singing and Dreaming through Life”, and a Handbook for aspiring Singers or those who love the Classically trained voice ”Singing and Living your Dream“ 2017. Both Books are available as e-Book.
Michael has sung in more than 40 opera houses all worldwide, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, South Africa, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Czech Republic and has a Repertoire of more than 80 Operatic Tenor roles, including a dozen Opereretta and Musical lead roles. His voice moved from Lyric Italian Tenor to a more Spinto Tenor voice and then to the more Dramatic Tenor Roles. Otello in Otello (Verdi), Radames in Aida (Verdi), Andrea Chenier in Andrea Chenier (Giordano), Canio in I Pagliacci (Leoncavello), Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut (Puccini), Cavaradossi in Tosca (Puccini), Kcalaf in Turandot (Puccini),Don Jose in Carmen (Bizet), Florestan in Fidelio (Beethoven). Etc. In Musicals: Romberg’s Prince in The Student Prince and many more. Although Michael was offered Wagner on numerous occasions, he declined. He intensively studied parts of the Ring Cycle and found it suited his voice. However, his first love was Italian Opera, the reason he became an opera singer. He decided not to move into the Wagner/German fach.