Born: July 28, 1958 - Cape Town, South Africa
Died: November 29, 2005 - Paarl, South Africa
The South African tenor, Deon van der Walt, studied singing at the University of Stellenbosch and made his debut as Jaquino in Fidelio at the Cape Town Opera House even before graduating. Numerous scholarships and awards allowed him to continue his studies abroad. In 1981 he won the “International Mozart-Competition” in Salzburg.
Deon van der Walt’s first formal engagement took him to Gelsenkirchen, then to Stuttgart and Zürich. He was invited to perform at Covent Garden in London in 1985 and there made his debut as Almaviva in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.
Since then Deon van der Walt was counted amongst the leading lyric tenors and has performed at all the world’s major opera houses, such as La Scala in Milan, the Hamburg and Vienna State Operas, as well as the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Liceu in Barcelona and the Met in New York. Additionally he performed at numerous international festivals, especially at the Salzburg Festspiele, where he sang Belmonte in The Abduction from the Seraglio and Ferrando in Così fan tutte under Riccardo Muti. He was particularly successful in Mozart Year 1991 as Tamino in the Magic Flute under the direction of Sir Georg Solti.
Later Deon van der Walt also added french music to his repertoire: he sang Romeo in Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Zürich Opera House and sang Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon for the first time at the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In Zürich and Barcelona he saw great success as Tonio in La Fille du Regiment alongside Edita Gruberova. Furthermore he gave numerous concerts and specializes in recital performances. In addition to the conductors already mentioned, he worked together with (among others) Wolfgang Sawallisch, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Ferdinand Leitner, Horst Stein, Lorin Maazel, James Levine and Christian Thielemann.
At the end of November 2005, Deon van der Walt was found shot dead on his family's wine estate. He was shot twice in the chest, apparently by his father, in a domestic tragedy that left the opera world distraught and baffled.