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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

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

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

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

Lana Paćuka

(b Banja Luka, Bosnia, July 25, 1940). Bosnian soprano, opera soloist, and music pedagogue. She completed her elementary and secondary music education in her native town. She began her studies in opera singing at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana (Slovenia), with Julije Beteto. After the second year, she continued her music education in Sarajevo, with Bruna Špiler. The distinctiveness of her talent was recognized early on, and she graduated at the top of her class. She took the master’s degree from the Department of Voice in 1967.

Upon completing her studies, with a Sarajevo Opera scholarship, she made her début in Jenufa (L. Janáček) in 1965. From that moment on, she was engaged as a soloist at the Sarajevo Opera and, from 1965 to 1968, sang the roles of Abigaille (Nabucco, G. Verdi), Katerina Ismailova (Katerina Ismailova, D. Shostakovich), and Floramye (Little Floramye, I. Tijardović). In ...