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Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Brockton, MA, USA, Nov 4, 1925). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Born in the large Albanian immigrant colony in New England (USA), Athanasi returned as a child to his parents’ hometown of Korça, where he participated in its vibrant prewar choral, theatre, and sports scenes. During World War II, he performed with resistance groups singing patriotic and partisan songs and, in 1948, he was selected as a soloist in the newly formed National Army Ensemble by director Gaqo Avrazi. Athanasi was among a handful of young men in this ensemble to receive a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union, and following the completion of his degree in vocal performance at the Moscow State Conservatory in 1958, he was appointed soloist at Tirana’s Theatre of Opera and Ballet. He performed leading roles in premières of Albanian operas, and was active as a recitalist, performing a broad range of art music works from the Western European and Albanian repertories as well as arranged folk songs into the 1980s. In ...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Herceg Novi, Montenegro, Dec 5, 1921; d Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 17, 2012) Bosnian baritone and opera soloist of Montenegrin origin. He made his début at the National Theatre in Sarajevo (1946), and after that, except for short engagements at the Zagreb Opera (1955–7), his artistic work was tied to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before beginning his musical education he attended the Maritime Trade Academy, after which he enrolled in solo singing at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. He also worked as a member of the Ivo Lola Ribar ensemble in Belgrade.

His début in the role of Rigoletto (Rigoletto, G. Verdi) enabled him to gain the status of first soloist at the Sarajevo Opera, which was the decisive moment in his career. During his artistic career he interpreted the roles of Papageno (The Magic Flute, W.A. Mozart), Sima (Ero s onog svijeta...

Article

Ivan Čavlović

(b Mostar, 1953). Bosnian-Herzegovinian soprano. Bakšić graduated from the Secondary Music School in Mostar. In 1976 she graduated from the Department for Music Theory and in 1979 from the Department for Solo-Singing at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo. She studied solo-singing in the class of the famous opera singer and professor Milica Buljubašić-Zečević. As a student she began to sing at the Music Scene of Sarajevo, first at the student concerts and then on the opera stage. In 1979 she made her début as Rosette in Manon. In 1981, at the very beginning of her career, she performed her first leading role as Floramye in the operette Little Floramye by Ivo Tijardović.

After graduating from the Department for Solo-Singing Bakšić passed the audition at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo and has since become a permanent soloist in the opera and operetta repertoire. Some of her leading roles include Rosette in ...

Article

Trudi Ann Wright

(b Baltimore, MD, Aug 9, 1912; d Oslo, Norway, March 13, 2009). American soprano. Born to a music-loving mother and prominent physician father whose grandparents were slaves, Brown premiered the role of Bess in the original production of Porgy and Bess (1935). She studied music, first at Morgan State College and then the Juilliard School, where she was the first African American to win the Margaret McGill scholarship. Brown learned of Gershwin’s new opera, then titled Porgy, while at Juilliard, and immediately requested an audition. She sang for Gershwin a few days later and left their meeting as Bess. Gershwin frequently invited Brown to his apartment to sing parts of the opera as he composed. As a result, Bess grew from a secondary character into one of the opera’s leading roles.

After the original Broadway run and tour of Porgy and Bess ended in 1936, Brown continued with her career in the DuBose Heyward musicals ...

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Korça, Albania, Jan 24, 1935). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Identified early as a talented singer in his hometown of Korça, he attended the Arts Lyceum ‘Jordan Misja’ in Tirana where he received his first formal training, with the pedagogue Mihal Ciko. In 1957 he received a scholarship to study at the Moscow State Conservatory, where he remained until 1961. On his return to Tirana, Çako was named soloist to the Theater of Opera and Ballet, where he performed a number of leading roles in foreign and Albanian operas during the 1960s and 1970s. Chief among his roles in Albanian operatic works were Dhimitër in Lulja e Kujtimit (by P. Jakova, 1961), Doda in Mrika (by P. Jakova, 1966), and Muji in Vjosa (by T. Daija, 1980). In addition to art music, he interpreted light popular songs and arrangements of folk songs throughout his career. Named as a pedagogue to Tirana’s State Conservatory in ...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 30, 1947). Bosnian soprano, opera soloist, and music pedagogue. She graduated in 1973 from the Music Academy Sarajevo (class of Bruna Špiler), where she also took the master’s degree in the field of solo singing in 1977. During her artistic career she achieved notable success singing the main soprano roles in the operas Il trovatore (G. Verdi), Ero s onog svijeta (J. Gotovac), The Bartered Bride (B. Smetana), The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart), and Madam Butterfly and La Boheme (G. Puccini). Her artistic activity was interrupted due to the wartime events in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. Her actions were diverted to performances within small artistic ensembles, which corresponded to the conditions of the social and cultural life of that time. She distinguished herself in appearances at the concerts of the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Summer Chamber Music (1993), and Days of Culture of the Czech Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Sigourney, IA). American mezzo-soprano. She took voice lessons from Jocelyn Reiter at the University of Iowa, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She continued her studies with Paul von Schilhawsky at the Salzburg Mozarteum, focusing on German lieder. She has appeared widely on the concert stage and with the world’s premiere opera troupes, including the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. Her Metropolitan debut was in 2002 as the wardrobe mistress/schoolboy in Berg’s Lulu. She has also appeared there as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini, Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette, and the Page of Herodias in Salome. Her many appearances at the New York City Opera have garnered her both the Betty Allen and Diva awards; with the company, she has performed the roles of Erika in Vanessa, Suzuki in ...

Article

James Wierzbicki

revised by Jonas Westover

(Ann )

(b Canby, MN, Jan 4, 1947). American soprano. After studying at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota (BM 1969), and with marion Freschel at the Juilliard School, she won first prizes in the Concert Artists Guild competition in 1970 and the Rockefeller and Minna Kaufmann Ruud competitions in 1972. She has appeared as a soloist with most of the major American orchestras, including the Baltimore SO, with which she toured East Germany, and the New York PO, with which she gave the premiere (under Pierre Boulez) of George Crumb’s Star-child (1977), a work commissioned for her by the Ford Foundation as a result of her winning its performance competition in 1971. She has also sung in Europe, with such orchestras as the Stuttgart RO and the Bavarian RO. In 1980 she won the Naumburg International Voice Competition, and the following year she made her opera debut as Mimì with Opera St. Paul (Minnesota), in addition to giving her first recitals at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center; since then she has been increasingly active as a recitalist. Gubrud’s wide expressive range and sure technique allow her to meet the demands of music from all periods. She has recorded widely on a variety of labels and has been a regular participant in the Aspen, Blossom, and Meadowbrook festivals. Gubrud’s role as a teacher has been a key facet of her career. She taught at Washington University, St. Louis (...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Carmen Mária Štefánia (Beatrix) Farkašová-Čelková]

(b Bratislava, 20 Oct 1931). Czech singer of Slovak origin. After completing her studies at the Gymnasium in Komárno (1950), she was unable to proceed to higher education owing to her political unreliability, but she completed a theatre course at the State Conservatory in Bratislava, and worked as an actress in the 1950s in theatres in Žilina and Bratislava. In 1958 she moved to Prague, where she acted and sang in the Alhambra and in the Rokoko and Semafor theatres. However, she established her career primarily as a singer of chansons, building her repertoire from songs by Petr Hapka and Jiří Šlitr, with texts by Petr Rada and Pavel Kopta, who also provided Czech texts for her to numerous French chansons. In the early 1960s she appeared at the Olympia in Paris, and in Switzerland and the German Federal Republic, where she also made recordings for the radio and appeared on television. She sang more frequently at significant foreign festivals such as Ostend, Wiesbaden, Cannes, and Sopoty, and in countries outside Czechoslovakia (Argentina, Cuba, Canada, and others), than at concerts in Czechoslovakia, though she played minor roles in many Czechoslovak films. Up to her retirement, on health grounds, in her 80s, she gave full-evening recitals in the Kalich and Ungelt theatres in Prague, and in other venues, accompanied on the piano by Petr Malásek. Outside the Czech sphere she has sung chansons in the original languages and has been nicknamed ‘the Prague Edith Piaf’ or ‘the Czech Juliette Gréco’, though as a singer she has retained a very distinctive Slavic style....

Article

Peter Mondelli

(b Washburn, IL, Nov 20, 1959). American bass-baritone. He studied at Millikin University and Wichita State University under Richard Cross and George Gibson. In 1986, he made his debut with Central City Opera in Denver as Colline in La Bohème. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1989 as Mr. Redburn in Billy Budd. He has since been heard with many major companies, including those in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, Salzburg, London, Paris, and Milan. He is a winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize. His rich-hued, powerful voice is especially well suited to the operas of Wagner and Strauss, including such roles as Wotan, Kurwenal, the Dutchman, Jochanaan, and Orestes. He has also been successful in such dramatically demanding roles as Wozzeck in in comic roles such as Leporello and the Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann. As a concert soloist, he has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Paris Orchestra, and the Kirov Opera Orchestra. His recordings include Donner in Wagner’s ...

Article

Thor Eckert Jr.

revised by Beth McGinnis

(b Ojai, CA, Dec 27, 1939). American tenor. He studied at the Music Academy of the West, UCLA with martial Singher and from 1963 to 1972 at the Juilliard School with Jennie Tourel. He began his professional career as Francesco Cavalli’s Ormindo with the Opera Society of Washington (1969) and as Tonio in a concert performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Beverly Sills at Carnegie Hall (1970, recorded on the Adagio Classics label). Shortly thereafter he made his New York City Opera debut in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and went on to sing with opera companies in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, Switzerland, and England. His repertoire of more than seventy roles includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Ferrando, Belmonte, and Tamino, Charles Gounod’s Faust and Roméo, Georges Bizet’s Don José, and Claude Debussy’s Pelléas. He has appeared regularly with major American orchestras, choral societies, and music festivals and has performed Franz Schubert’s song cycles with fortepiano. Known for his versatility and acute attention to style, he has sung in the premieres of works by Leonard Bernstein, Jack Beeson, Thomas Pasatieri, Alberto Ginastera (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b United States). American baritone. One of his earliest professional performances took place at the Lake George Opera Festival, where he performed as Damis in Kirke Mechem’s Tartuffe in 1982. He appeared there again as Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, one of his signature roles. His voice, while not overpowering, is full of nuance and carries a light brilliance. A sought after performer, he has served as a principal singer with Glimmerglass Opera, Virginia Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, New York Grand Opera, El Paso Opera, and the Natchez Opera Festival. By the early 2010s, he had performed nearly 150 different roles in a variety of theatrical productions, including bel canto opera, musical theater, and, especially, light opera. During more than a quarter century singing with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, he has performed in each opera and in more than 20 roles. His international reputation as a premiere interpreter of this repertoire has been built on more than 500 Gilbert and Sullivan performances. Other notable works he has performed in New York include Carlisle Floyd’s ...

Article

Irina Boga

(b Vânju Mare, Romania, June 2, 1930). Romanian baritone. He graduated from the Theatre Faculty in Iași (1948–9) and the Bucharest Music Conservatory (1952–6) where he studied with Constantin Stroescu. He continued his studies in Salzburg (Mozarteum, 1956), Paris (1958–60), and Rome (1960). He made his début in 1949 in the operetta Cântec de via ță nouă (‘Song for a new life’) by Florin Comișel; he gave his Bucharest Opera and Ballet Theatre début in December 1956. He performed 262 international tours in 61 countries, appearing in almost 1100 opera performances across the globe. He performed 45 operatic roles, and gave over 1600 lieder recitals. He sang on the major stages of Europe and North America, in productions alongside Mario Del Monaco, Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Renata Scotto, Virginia Zeani, Montserrat Caballé, Luciano Pavarotti, Franco Corelli, N. Rossi-Lemeni, and Giuseppe Di Stefano, among others. He was awarded various prizes throughout his lengthy career, including the Robert Schumann Prize (Berlin, ...

Article

Zana Shuteriqi Prela

(b Rrëshen, Abania, July 18, 1974). Albanian soprano. In 1992 she completed her vocal studies with V. Kosta at the Jordan Misja Liceu Artistik in Tirana. In 1993 she earned a scholarship and moved to Italy to study at the Accademia Mantovana of Katia Ricciarelli, and later studied at the S. Cecilia Conservatorio in Rome with Valerio Papperi. From 1997 to 2000 her activity concentrated in Italy, and she won a number of competitions including the Giacomo Pucinni Milan (1997) and Spontini International Competition in Ancona (1998), among others. She has performed on such important stages as those at Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala Milano, the Metropolitan Opera, the Berliner Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera, the Opéra Bastille, the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, NHK Opera in Japan, the Arena di Verona, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Her rich repertory includes roles in ...

Article

Nadia Turbide

(b Cleveland, OH, Aug 13, 1907; d New York, NY, March 13, 2002). American soprano, music publisher, and concert manager. She studied singing with Ruth Thayer Burnham while attending Abbot Academy, Andover, and later at Wellesley College (BA 1929). After two years as an actress at the Cleveland Playhouse, she sang in Gabriel Pierné’s La croisade des enfants with the Cleveland Orchestra (1932). She was then coached by Eva Gauthier in New York and made her debut there in 1934 at Town Hall in the North American premiere of Handel’s solo cantata La Lucrezia. Three years later she sang Butterfly and Tosca with the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp. After meeting Sibelius in Finland, she returned to the United States and introduced a number of his songs in concert (1938). During World War II Johnson escorted a convoy of refugees from Paris to Spain and as a result of the ordeal lost her voice. She joined the staff of ...

Article

Anya Laurence

(b Akron, OH, Nov 10, 1954). American baritone and teacher. He received his vocal training at the University of Houston where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. His teachers included Franco Corelli, Jean Preston, louis Quilico , and Michael Trimble. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991 and has subsequently sung numerous roles there, including Germont (La traviata), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), and Rigoletto (Rigoletto). In 2009 he appeared in the premiere of André Previn’s opera Brief Encounter with Houston Grand Opera and in 2010 the premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon with Opera Santa Barbara. In 2011 he performed William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge with the Rome Opera Theater. He has been recognized with awards from the William Sullivan–George London Foundation, the Loren L. Zachary Society, the Licia Albanese–Puccini Foundation, and the Bagby Foundation, and has also received a Bruce Yarnell Scholarship and a career grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. He has also worked as associate professor of voice at the University of Oklahoma....

Article

Trudi Ann Wright

(b New York, NY, Jan 30, 1922). American mezzo-soprano. Kulhmann is best known for creating the role of the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. After the start of World War II, Kuhlmann joined WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services), where she learned Morse Code to send messages to ships at sea. Her musical talent was recognized after she performed on radio programs promoting WAVES and soon had her own weekly show, Navy Serenade, where she sang popular songs of the period.

After the war, Kulhmann attended Juilliard on a full scholarship through the G.I. Bill, received her degree in 1950, and sang with Robert Shaw’s professional chorus. She then auditioned for Menotti’s The Consul, and earned the role of the Secretary. After performing in a revival of Music in the Air directed by Oscar Hammerstein, Kuhlmann landed the role of the Mother in Amahl...

Article

Justin Vickers

(b Aberdeen, Scotland, Dec 11, 1946). Scottish tenor and pedagogue. Graduating in 1969 he studied the piano and the clarinet at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; he won a scholarship to the RCM in voice, graduating Associate of the Royal College of Music (Hons) and a Postgraduate Diploma in 1972 and 1973, respectively. In 1973 a Gulbenkian Fellowship supported vocal study with Ernst Haeflinger in Munich, followed by vocal studies with renowned English tenor Sir Peter Pears from 1973 to 1986. He has enjoyed a longtime collaboration with Peter Maxwell Davies, creating roles in The Martyrdom of St Magnus (the title role, 1977), Solstice of Light (1979), The Lighthouse (1980), Into the Labyrinth (1983), Jacobite Rising (1997), and Sea Elegy (1998). He sang and recorded first performances from Benjamin Britten’s song canon (after Britten’s death), notably including the première performance of ‘Now sleeps the crimson petal’, which was excised from ...

Article

Irina Boga

(b Constanța, Romania, Oct 6, 1935). Romanian tenor . He began his studies at the Bucharest Conservatory with the renowned lyrical artist Constantin (Dinu) Bădescu, whose disciple he remained throughout his career. He made his début at the Romanian Opera as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (1966) and in a short time became renowned for his Italian and Mozartian repertory. He left Romania in 1972 due to conflicts with the communist government in Romania. His first European contract came that same year with the Regensburg Opera in Germany, for the role of Manrico, a success that led to an international career. He performed, between 1972 and 1989, on the major stages in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Portugal. He also performed in cities in North America, including Fort Worth, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Pretoria, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Baltimore. He sang lead tenor roles in Il tabaro, Don Carlo, Rigoletto, Manon Lescaut, La traviata, Cavalleria rusticana, La bohème, Faust, Turandot...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Bosanski Brod, Bosnia, Dec 30, 1937; d Zagreb, Croatia, Sept 18, 2007). Bosnian soprano and prima donna. She completed her secondary music education and university studies in singing in Sarajevo. She graduated from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo in 1963 (studying under Bruna Špiler and Zlata Đunđevac-Gavella). One of the key figures in her personal musical development was operetta diva Erika Druzović, who spotted her talent for refined musicality and striking vocal ability. In 1959 she debuted with the Sarajevo Opera in the role of Duchess in The Marriage of Figaro. She performed with this opera company from 1962 to 1975, eventually attaining prima donna status.

Her international career was launched by a competition in Tokyo (1968), where she was awarded the prize for the best performance of the role of Cho-Cho-San in Madam Butterfly. After this she performed on several stages around the world, including the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, and La Scala, and her striking performance of the title role in ...