South African Uber driver sings Verdi on a ride, and obviously goes viral

11 July 2019, 17:40 | Updated: 10 July 2020, 18:08

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Taxi driver Menzi Mngoma has found success as an opera singer, after a video of him belting out Verdi to a passenger went viral.

A video of Menzi Mngoma, an Uber driver from South Africa, singing ‘La donna è mobile’ from Verdi’s Rigoletto in his cab has had more than 660,000 views on Facebook.

Since the video (watch above) was posted in May, Mngoma has successfully auditioned for Cape Town Opera and is currently recording a single.

“I’m so excited with everything that’s happening in my life right now – all the gigs I’m getting, people who recognise me, wanting to take photos with me,” the father of one told the BBC.

“I feel special seeing my face on TV and in newspapers, as well as doing interviews on radio.”

The taxi driver was filmed during a journey through the eastern coast city of Durban by Kim Davey, a passenger who was on a business trip from Johannesburg.

During her ride with Mngoma, she discovered he had studied music and was a self-taught opera singer, but worked for Uber to make ends meet.

Kim Davey and Menzi Mngoma
Kim Davey and Menzi Mngoma. Picture: Kim Davey

“He was forced to take up a job as an Uber driver to support his young family due to a lack of opportunities for singers like himself in the country,” Ms Davey said.

“I was completely bowled over. I couldn't believe that a man with such talent was unable to use it.

“After getting his permission to post on Facebook the video I recorded of him, I had no idea it would go viral. And things have just happened so quickly for him since then.”

Since the taxi ride, Davey has been on a mission to get Mngoma’s name out in the opera world.

And it’s been quite the journey for the 27 year old. He has been invited to perform at the second annual South Africa Author’s Awards in Johannesburg on 31 July, and in December he’s going to Los Angeles to perform in a talent show.

He has also been invited to compete in the Voices of South Africa International Opera Singing Competition, held in Cape Town between 18 and 28 July.

“I feel like a special person,” he said. “So, I’m now not just a simple Uber driver. It feels great.”