World Cup opera singer Siphiwo Ntshebe dies

26 May 2010 - 17:18 By Sapa

Tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe, who was to sing "Hope" at the World Cup opening ceremony next month, died in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, his record label said on Wednesday.

"This is such a sad, tragic story," said Sony Music Entertainment chief executive officer Keith Lister.

"Within days of realising his dreams he was struck down like this. It is a great loss. For someone who has worked as hard as he has, who has trained, and then to have it taken away right at the moment of the acknowledgement of his talent and success..."

Ntshebe, 34, was dubbed the "new Pavarotti" after the Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti, and had just finished recording an album containing a spoken message of hope and compassion by former president Nelson Mandela.

He was preparing for rehearsals for the opening ceremony when he contracted bacterial meningitis and was admitted to the Livingstone Hospital in his birthplace, Port Elizabeth, last week.