Tributes flow to tenor Zurab Sotkilava, who dies aged 80

Sotkilava spent the latter years of his performing and educational work in Moscow. Photo:, 18 Sep 2017 - 15:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian opera enthusiasts and public officials paid tributes to the country's celebrated tenor Zurab Sotkilava, who died on Monday, leaving behind a rich opera career of award-winning performances.

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili led the eulogies, praising the late "opera singer of international level" and speaking about Sotkilava's roots in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia.

Zurab Sotkilava was a loyal son of Georgia. He carried the painful memories related to his native Abkhazia. I would like to extend my sincere condolences for the loss to Zurab Sotkilava's family, relatives and the whole of Georgia," Kvirikashvili said earlier today.

Zurab Sotkilava photographed with famed Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe. Photo:

The condolences were joined by President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, who paid respects to the "fruitful creative and educational work" of the late singer and noted the role the tenor played in promoting Georgian classical music school abroad.

The tributes were also echoed by the State Opera House of Georgia, the opera company of Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre and venue for Sotkilava's performances from 1965-1974.

Sotkilava joined the principal opera venue of the country after graduating from the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. While part of the troupe, he was also accepted as an intern at the famed Teatro alla Scala in Milan from 1966-1968.

The Georgian tenor's career continued at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre from 1964, with performing career accompanied by teaching work at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory from 1975.

Over his operatic career Sotkilava performed principal roles in classic works including Il Trovatore, Othello, Aida and Carmen. The well-known tenor also appeared in Georgian opera productions including the most famed staging, Abesalom and Eteri.

Zurab Sotkilava was distinguished with Georgian and international prizes and awards for performing and artistic work, including the Grand Prix of the Pyotr Tchaikovsky International Contest in Barcelona in 1970, the Shota Rustaveli State Prize and the Zakaria Paliashvili State Prize of Georgia.

A recipient of the 1997 Order of Honour of Georgia, he was also named People's Artist of the Soviet Union in 1979 and selected as honorific member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna in 1980.