VIENNA-Tributes poured in from the operatic world for South African-born star tenor Johan Botha who died Thursday, aged 51, after a short illness. Botha, who also had Austrian citizenship, died in Vienna where he lived and was engaged at the Vienna State Opera, local media said. “We had been looking forward to his return so much,” the prestigious opera house’s director Dominique Meyer said. “Johan Botha was one of very few top tenors in his area, and until recently one of our best singers,” Mayer said.

Milan’s La Scala, where Botha regularly sang, said Botha “had a brilliant international career that took him into the leading theatres of the world”. South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Botha would be remembered “for his soothing and powerful voice”. “Mr Botha was one of our most accomplished and talented opera singers and a good ambassador for South Africa abroad. “We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family as well as the arts and culture industry at large. May his soul rest in peace,” Zuma added.