Lyric Opera of Chicago

Johan Botha withdraws from final Otello performances

For Immediate Release:
Monday, October 28, 2013 

Johan Botha withdraws from final two performances
of Verdi’s OTELLO at Lyric Opera of Chicago Oct. 29, Nov. 2
because of severe back pain
Clifton Forbis to assume the title role

Johan Botha, the world-renowned South African heldentenor who has been performing the title role of Verdi’s Otello at Lyric Opera of Chicago, has been forced to withdraw from his final two performances on October 29 and November 2 because of severe back pain caused by a previous injury, Lyric’s general directorAnthony Freud announced today. Botha has returned to Vienna for treatment.

Clifton Forbis, the internationally celebrated American heldentenor acclaimed for his portrayals in the most formidable dramatic repertoire, will sing the final two performances.

“Mr. Botha deeply regrets his inability to sing these last performances,” his manager Michael Lewin said. “He has been suffering with this for the past several weeks, but the pain has now reached a point that he feels he can no longer perform at the level he demands of himself, or that his audiences deserve.”

Clifton Forbis’s much-acclaimed portrayal of Otello inaugurated Dallas’s Winspear Opera House in 2009 , premiering The Dallas Opera’s new Tim Albery production. Forbis has also starred as Otello at the Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala (both in Milan and on tour to Japan), the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Opera Philadelphia, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. The tenor made his Lyric Opera debut as Tom Buchanan/The Great Gatsby (2000-01) and returned as Tristan/Tristan und Isolde (2008-09). His Tristan has also been heard at La Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Berlin Staatsoper, and with the major houses of Geneva (DVD), Paris, Lyon, and Los Angeles (role debut).

Among his other Wagner roles are Siegmund/Die Walküre (Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, The Dallas Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Act One last season with the Dallas Symphony) and the title role/Parsifal (Paris, also Act Three with James Conlon conducting at Florence’s Maggio Musicale Fiorentino). Other major roles in Forbis’s stylistically varied repertoire include Florestan/Fidelio (Barcelona, Brussels, Toronto, Dallas, Atlanta), Samson/Samson et Dalila (Met, Marseille, Bilbao, Genoa, San Diego, Cincinnati), and Laca/Jenůfa (Philadelphia Orchestra). Among his other Met roles are Don José, Lensky, Andrei/Khovanshchina, title role/Oedipus Rex, the Drum Major/Wozzeck, and the Painter/Lulu. He has also sung Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with numerous major orchestras, including those of Boston, Toronto, and Cleveland.

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