An opera singer due to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, Siphiwo Ntshebe, has tragically died from meningitis, aged just 34.
South African tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe, who has been compared likened to the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, was chosen by Nelson Mandela to perform his new track Hope at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on 11 June.
An album by the same name is due to be released on the label Epic Records. It features the voice of Nelson Mandela. It is not yet known whether the album will be released as planned, but his family are said to be keen for his music to be heard as widely as possible.
The producer of the World Cup opening ceremony, Lebo M said Ntshebe was "a true South Africa World Cup legacy, gone too soon. May his spirit lead us to 11 June 2010. May his soul rest in peace and may Siphiwo's spirit of hope centre us all.”
Ntshebe’s website quotes an extract of a recent letter he received from Nelson Mandela, thanking him for performing at an event in Monaco: “We appreciate your efforts and we were very proud to show the world a young South African with so much talent that has, despite challenges of the past, chosen to work hard at a better future.”
Siphiwo Ntshebe received much of his musical training in London, at the Royal College of Music, and performed across Europe. He also received scholarships to study in Cape Town and Australia.