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Injured Johan Botha bows out of Lyric's 'Otello'

Johan Botha as Otello (left) and Falk Struckmann as Iago in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of “Otello.” Botha was forced to withdraw from the final performances due to a back injury. | PHOTO BY DAN REST


World-renowned South African heldentenor Johan Botha has been forced to withdraw from the final two performances of the title character in Verdi’s “Otello” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, due to back pain from a previous injury. Botha has returned to Vienna for treatment.

The announcement was made today by the Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud. The affected performance dates are Oct. 29 and Nov. 2.

Stepping into the role is acclaimed American heldentenor Clifton Forbis.

“Mr. Botha deeply regrets his inability to sing these last performances,” his manager Michael Lewin said in a prepared statement. “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.”