Farewell to SA Opera Star

The life of Siphiwo Ntshebe reads like a fairytale, rising above an impoverished childhood to become one of the best up and coming opera stars South Africa has ever seen. But it was with great sadness that the announcement was made by the family members of this rising star that he had passed away at the tender age of 35 due to acute bacterial meningitis on 25 May 2010. Often referred to as the Black Pavarotti, Siphiwo Ntshebe, was the jewel of South Africa, spreading his message of hope throughout the world.

Siphiwo Ntshebe was one of the greatest operatic tenors in the world. Born in 1974 in the city of Port Elizabeth (or Nelson Mandela Bay), he discovered his love for music in his father’s church, singing in the choir and participating in concerts. During his school years he also sang in school choirs, and got his first break at the age of 16 while performing with an orchestra. He was discovered at this event, which led to a scholarship at the Cape Town University and later a Young Artists Scholarship in Australia. The Royal College of Music, located in London, also reached out to Ntshebe, and he completed his studies at the Royal College of Music in the year 2007. He was given the opportunity to perform for royals, including Prince Albert of Monaco and Prince Charles, as well as at various venues across Europe, with Verdi, Mozart and Puccini being part of his repertoire. Another wonderful honor was bestowed on him by the legendary Nelson Mandela, who personally selected Ntshebe to perform at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.

The song he selected to sing for the opening was a track off his debut album called “Hope”, which was to be released next month. This track is especially unique, as it is the first time that Nelson Mandela has agreed to have his voice recorded for musical purposes and expresses these sentences of hope and caring throughout the song: “The generosity of the human spirit can overcome all adversity. Through compassion and caring we can create hope. We can create hope.” The loss of Siphiwo Ntshebe is felt throughout South Africa, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of those who admired him and found comfort in his voice.