Johan Botha (tenor)

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Botha as Tenor/Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Anne Schwanewilms, Hamburg State Opera, 2012

Johan Botha (19 August 1965 – 8 September 2016) was a South African operatic tenor.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Rustenburg, South Africa, Botha began his vocal training with Jarmilla Tellenger from the age of 10 through 17. He then served for two years in the South African Air Force before pursuing further studies in Pretoria with Eric Muller. His voice initially was trained as a bass-baritone and his first opera performance was portraying the title role in a student production of Verdi's Falstaff. As his studies progressed under Muller his voice moved towards that of a tenor.[1] In 1990 he moved to Europe and became a longtime pupil of Irmgard Hartmann.[1]

Botha made his professional stage debut at the municipal theatre in Roodepoort as Max in Der Freischütz in 1989. He then became a member of the opera chorus at the Bayreuth Festival in 1990. In 1991 he sang Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera at the Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern. This was followed by performances at opera houses in Dortmund, Hagen, Hildesheim and Bonn.[1] His international breakthrough occurred in 1993 at the Opéra Bastille as Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly.[2] Since then he performed at leading opera venues around the world such as the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera which made him a Kammersänger in 2003, Opera Australia, Royal Opera House (London), La Scala and the Salzburg Festival.

He died of cancer on 8 September 2016 at the age of 51.[3] At the time of his death Botha lived in Vienna, Austria, with his wife Sonja and two sons.[4] He was buried at the Vienna Central Cemetery.


Johan Botha is the most recorded South African opera singer in history:

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Dyer (February 2008). "Singing Saved His Life". Opera News. 72 (8).
  2. ^ Jahn, George (8 September 2016). "South African tenor Johan Botha dies at age 51". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Johan Botha, tenor with a gloriously large voice and physique – obituary". The Telegraph. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  4. ^ Woolfe, Zachary (8 September 2016). "Johan Botha, Operatic Tenor in Difficult Roles, Dies at 51". New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2016.