Attempting optimistic misanthropy

Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Farewell to the Black Pavarotti

Posted by Hussyville on May 26, 2010

Tragic news out of South Africa this evening, with the news that Siphiwo Ntshebe, one of very few black opera stars, has passed away after succumbing to meningitis at the tender age of just 34. Siphiwo had been selected by Nelson Mandela to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, just over three weeks from today.

Coming from very humble beginnings, Siphiwo distinguished himself as a student of acting and drama and was eventually rewarded with a scholarship to the then-Australia-based Cape Town University, and a further postgraduate place at the Royal College of Music. He performed as a tenor throughout Europe and across Africa.

For me, in the period of my life I call “before cigarettes,” Siphiwo was an inspiration, a sign that black people could “do” opera, that I wasn’t necessarily being unrealistic with my dreams of gracing the stage at La Scala (I was; I am a very mediocre alto). It also reminded me that with all the advantages I had growing up, I should never complain when things didn’t go my way, as others had to contend with far more than I ever had or ever would, yet still managed to succeed. Siphiwo was an inspiration, in more ways than one.

So tonight, sadly, a shining light has been snuffed out. Sleep well, sweet prince. You will be missed.

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