Johan Botha dies at 51

South African-born tenor Johan Botha and former Technikon Pretoria student, who dazzled audiences at the world’s top operatic stages, died at the age of 51 in Vienna early Thursday.

He had reportedly been suffering from cancer.

Botha was one of the first students to enroll for a national diploma at the former Technikon Pretoria in 1986, which became the Tshwane University of Technology in 2004.

Upon completion of his studies, he made his stage debut at the municipal theater in Roodepoort as Max in Der Freischütz in 1989. His international breakthrough came in 1993 at the Opéra Bastille as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Prof Lourens van Staden, Vice-Chancellor of TUT, praised Botha for his illustrious career.

“He was probably one of the University’s best-known and most respected Alumni. Our deepest condolences to his wife, two sons, friends and fans all over the world.”

Botha has performed at leading opera venues around the world such as the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Australia, Royal Opera House (London), La Scala, the Salzburg Festival, New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera which he made his home.

The Vienna State Opera also him made Botha a Kammersänger in 2003.

Botha was also an accomplished concert singer, appearing with orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra under the batons of Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and Christian Thielemann among others.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.


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