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Johan Botha

Johan Botha on Saturday’s Met

Johan Botha with Amanda Majeski and Dmitry Ivashchenko in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg"

South African opera singer Johan Botha is a regular at Lyric Opera of Chicago. In recent years, he’s sung Walther in “Die Meistersinger” and opened Lyric’s season last year as Otello. He’s been Lohengrin, and comes back to Chicago in February as Tannhäuser. The 49-year-old heldentenor is made for these heftier roles. The heldentenor is a voice type that can sing comfortably

Lyric Opera Timeline: the First 60 Years

The interior of Chicago's Civic Opera House

In 1952, a student singer named Carol Fox got to chatting with her vocal coach, Nicola Rescigno, and insurance man Lawrence Kelly about ways to sustain an opera company in Chicago – a series of previous attempts had ended in bankruptcy. They agreed, if they were to attempt such a venture, they would need to marshal community support – and what better way to recruit supporters than to show them an opera? In February 1954

WFMT’s Lyric Opera Weekend

Stars gather at the Civic Opera House to celebrate Lyric's 60th in an unforgettable concert

In February of 1954, Lyric Opera founders Carol Fox, Nicola Rescigno, and Lawrence Kelly launched the first production, hoping it would inspire opera lovers to step forward and offer financial and community support for an opera company in Chicago – it did. Rescigno conducted two performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni as the Don, and Eleanor Steber

Sumptuous and Sexy: Lyric Opens with “Otello”

Ana Maria Martinez as Desdemona, photo by Dan Rest

Verdi’s 200th birthday is upon us; and Lyric Opera of Chicago pays homage with one of the reigning Verdi tenors, Johan Botha, singing the title role of Otello. Ana María MartÍnez is the unlucky Desdemona, whose demise is collateral damage to the machinations of Falk Struckmann’s Iago. This is a powerful trio; one that will no doubt sharpen the sting of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Die Meistersinger Comes to Lyric Opera of Chicago

Photo by Robert Kusel

Ever the radical, Wagner must have amused himself, poking fun at the musical establishment. He sidestepped the mythology and magic of his other works to write a romantic comedy. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is historical fiction. In fact, Wagner’s central character Hans Sachs did live and work as a poet, a playwright and cobbler in more…