Just as life can imitate art, classical can imitate pop. First Marvin Gay was shot dead by his father; now South African superstar tenor Deon van der Walt has met a similar fate. In a scene worthy of an opera, Deon had a stormy fight with his dad Charles on their wine estate in Paarl, South Africa. He was found dead with two bullets in his chest; the father with one in his temple and the gun at his side.
Marvin Gay had added an e to the end of his family name because of concerns he might be perceived to be a back street boy. Queerty is proud to now leave that damned e off. But what of this Van der Walt chap? Was he, or wasn’t he? He was 47, and the obits say “He is survived by his mother and brother.” So if he was not, and if anybody is offended by the insinuation he probably was, then we beg to grovel for your forgiveness.
Deon Van der Walt was an important figure in South African life, as he was that nation’s first tenor to have performed at all of New York’s Met, Milan’s La Scala, Vienna’s State Opera, and London’s Covent Garden. In addition to his mother and brother, he leaves behind a number of recordings, including a “Portrait” album giving an admirable sampling of his artistry across a range of styles.