Siphiwo Ntshebe, the 34-year-old South African opera singer due to perform in the World Cup opening ceremonies, died Tuesday after a short battle with acute bacterial meningitis.
Ntshebe, who was dubbed the "Black Pavarotti," was rehearsing for the opening ceremonies at which he was scheduled to perform "Hope," the personal message of former president Nelson Mandela, when he as taken ill.
"This is such a sad, tragic story," said Sony Music Entertainment chief executive officer Keith Lister. "Within days of realizing 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 acknowledgment of his talent and success ..."