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Soviet and Russian opera singer Zurab Sotkilava dies at 80

Opera singer Zurab Sotkilava poses for a photo

Opera singer Zurab Sotkilava poses for a photo during an awards ceremony in Moscow's Kremlin on Feb. 21, 2008. Credit: AP / Mikhail Klimentyev

MOSCOW — Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater has announced that renowned Soviet and Russian opera singer Zurab Sotkilava has died. He was 80.

The Bolshoi announced Sotkilava’s death in Moscow on Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences.

Sotkilava, born in then-Soviet Georgia, was a member of its leading soccer team before an injury put an end to his sports career. In 1965, he graduated from the Tbilisi Conservatory and later attended classes at Milan’s La Scala.

Sotkilava made his Bolshoi Theatre debut in 1973 as Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen.” He starred as Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini’s “Tosca,” Radames in Verdi’s “Aida” and Vaudemont in Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta,” among other productions.

Sotkilava has performed at some of the world’s top stages and received numerous international awards.

He will be buried in his native Georgia.

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