Joseph Gabriels was born in 1937 in Cape Town. He was discovered by Joseph Manca, musical
director of the EOAN Group, the forerunner of the Provincial Performing Arts Councils in
South Africa. Joseph Gabriels received no musical training or vocal training whilst in South
Africa during that time he recorded (1960–67).
In 1967 he received a bursary from the Schneier family of Johannesburg to study in Milan.
In 1969 he won the famous Verdi competition in Busseto, the birthplace of Verdi.
As a result of this he made his debut on 5 February 1971 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as
Canio in Pagliacci – the first ever South African to sing there (see note below).
He later appeared with the English National Opera in the full version of Verdi's Don Carlos.
For many years he sang with the Düsseldorf opera and was also invited to sing for the Vatican.
Recordings of Gabriels were made on private acetate records and on tapes during live performances,
and bring this glorious voice together with the wonderful contributions of other members of
the EOAN Group at that time.
[Note: The archives of the Metropolitan Opera confirm this performance of Pagliacci
as the only performance of Joseph Gabriels at the Met. His colleagues included
Gilda Cruz-Romo and Cornell MacNeil, Dominic Cossa, Robert Schmorr, and conductor Fausto Cleva.]