Vienna Opera flies black flag in mourning for Johan Botha

Vienna Opera flies black flag in mourning for Johan Botha


norman lebrecht

September 08, 2016

Reaction to the death of the Wagnerian tenor has been shocked and swift.

The Vienna State Opera has issued this statement:

The Vienna State Opera mourns Kammersänger and honorary member Johan Botha, who died in Vienna this morning (8th September 2016) after a severe illness.

‘We are all deeply affected by this loss – Johan Botha left us way too early. We had been very much looking forward to his return on stage as Calaf, after a serious illness did not allow him to sing “his” Turandot premiere in spring. Johan Botha was one of the best tenors worldwide in his fach and has always been one of the most important
singers of our House. He is leaving a considerable void behind” – said the Director of the Wiener Staatsoper, Dominique Meyer – “to honour his merits at the Wiener Staatsoper, last year we applied for him to be appointed as honorary member of the Wiener Staatsoper and we had to postpone the conferral because of his illness, unfortunately now it is too late. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to his family in these difficult hours.’

‘As sign of mourning the Wiener Staatsoper has hoisted the black flag and is dedicating Johan Botha the next Turandot performance on September 10.’

The tenor Michael Schade, singing Mahler’s 8th symphony in Tokyo, writes:

In just two hours I get to perform one of the greatest compositions one can be allowed to perform- I will dedicate this to Johan Botha – a true Held and Gentlemen and one of the greatest voices, that I ever got to share the stage with!!

We all here, and the team that surrounds Paavo Jarvi ( and so many of us got to sing with you -Ain Anger, Annelie Peebo, Michael Nagy, Erin Wall and and and …) will dedicate this to you, dear friend and esteemed colleague.
Johan and may you rest in peace!


Kasper Holten, director of the Royal Opera in London, tweeted: So sad to hear of Johan Botha’s death – will never forget his last performance in Die Frau ohne Schatten



  • Marianne says:

    A packed opera house in Cape Town gave Johan Botha a standing ovation just a month ago. He was in the city to sing a concert, and his glorious voice thrilled the audience even though he was sadly unable to complete the programme. He will be mourned by opera lovers in South Africa and remembered not only for his wonderful voice but also for his humility.

  • Pedro says:

    So many souvenirs … Beethoven 9, Florestan, Tannhäuser, Radamés, Siegmund …

  • Jorge says:

    I was at the New York Met in February 2007 when he sang Walter’s role in Wagner’s Meistersinger . Impressive tenor!…..I also watched him later on as Otello on theater’s TV transmission. Very sad news. Jorge.