Remembering Johan Botha’s Greatest Roles

One of the great tragedies of 2016 was losing tenor Johan Botha in the midst of his vocal prime. At just 51 years of age, he still had, at the very least, a few solid years of singing to impart on us.

Those who heard Botha will rarely forget his beautiful tenor, a delicate instrument by nature capable of ripping through any orchestra with a strength and force, but without ever losing its essential beauty.

On this day, August 19, which would have been his 52nd birthday, we will look back at the roles that made him so great.


While he was mainly known for his Wagner interpretations, there is no doubt that the tenor also made successful forays into the Verdi canon, none more successful than his interpretation of the moor. He sang it a number of times throughout his career, but his most famous interpretation came at the Metropolitan Opera where he sang alongside Renée Fleming for an HD performance that was later released on DVD. He sang the opera for the last time in Salzburg in March 2016.

Die Walküre

Few dominated the role of Siegmund the way Botha did, the tenor managing to give the famed Wagnerian hero a truly lyrical edge that few others have ever managed. “Johan Botha is known for his mellifluous voice rather than his acting skills, but on this occasion he captured something of Siegmund’s mixture of defiance and tenderness without losing his vocal finesse,” wrote David Larkin of Bachtrack.” His last go at the role was in June 2016 in Budapest.

Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg

The tenor was perfect for the role of Walther, his gentle timbre ideal for Wagner’s precious lyric writing for the character. He sang it a few times throughout his career, his final appearance in the role coming in 2014 at the Metropolitan Opera.

Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Few artists can claim to conquer the difficult Strauss role, but Botha put together a number of performances throughout 2013-14 in Munich and London. His interpretation in London was hailed as “statuesque” and “sturdily sung.”

What was your favorite Johan Botha interpretation? 

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About the Author

David Salazar
Prior to creating OperaWire, DAVID SALAZAR, (Editor-in-Chief) worked as a reporter for Latin Post where he interviewed major opera stars including Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Vittorio Grigolo, Diana Damrau and Rolando Villazon among others. His 2014 interview with opera star Kristine Opolais was cited in a New York Times Review. He also had the opportunity of interviewing numerous Oscar nominees, Golden Globe winners and film industry giants such as Guillermo del Toro, Oscar Isaac and John Leguizamo among others. David holds a Masters in Media Management from Fordham University. During his time at Fordham, he studied abroad at the Jagiellonian University in Poland. He also holds a dual bachelor’s from Hofstra University in Film Production and Journalism.

2 Comments on "Remembering Johan Botha’s Greatest Roles"

  1. Thanx a lot for the Johan Botha tribute. I am also from South Africa and we were so proud of him.
    We appreciate your posts very much.
    Kind regards
    Ina Whelan

  2. Francois Joubert | October 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Reply

    I never saw him in a complete opera but twice in concert. The ease with which he sang was always astounding. And he always enjoyed singing.

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