Search This Blog

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Great Jan Kiepura

Jan Kiepura was born on the 16th of May 1902 in Sosnowiec, a quite small industrial town in Poland.

Kiepura discovered his singing voice in his youth and started singing in a school choir. His parents did not encourage him, however, and sent him to Warsaw to study law at the University of Warsaw, to which he was admitted in 1921. He continued studying voice in private, however, determined to become a solo singer in any theater that would give him the chance.  He finally got a chance, in 1924, to perform in a comic operetta called “Halka”

Word began to spread about the law student with the extraordinary voice, and in only one year he was given the chance to sing Faust at the Wielki Theater in Warsaw, when the tenor Dobosz, who was scheduled to sing, did not appear.  Kiepura was a spectacular success that night, receiving a standing ovation for his performance.  Thus began a brilliant career.

Kiepura gained popularity singing in Rigoletto (Verdi), Halka (Moniuszko) and Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) at the Warsawian Wielki Theater.

In 1926 Puccini's Tosca and Gianni Schicchi were added to his repertoire. Then came Tosca and Turandot as well as Straszny dwór by Moniuszko. Kiepura was becoming famous in Poland, but he very quickly determined to move on to Aivnna and Paris.  He also learned Italian and German, preparing himself for an international career.  He could sing convincingly in Italian, but he sang much more often in German, the language in which he gained his greatest popularity.

Here is a brilliant Nessun Dorma  (Sung in German)

By 1937 Kiepura had married Martha Eggerth, a singer and actress, with whom he appeared in many movies as well as in a production of 'The merry widow' on Broadway. The merry widow was such a success that the production toured throughout the U.S.A. as well as Western Europe, and was sung in four different languages. Kiepura acquired great fame in the '30s, shifting the emphasis from opera to the big screen. On January the 10th 1938 he debuted at the Metropolitan in New York as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme. Kiepura also sang in Tosca, Bizet's Carmen, and Verdi's Rigoletto at the Metropolitan until 1942. The duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) was regarded as his best role.

Kiepura's voice was an outpouring of a rich, warm tone: powerful and generous singing forte, sweet and honeyed when singing piano. Equipped with such an instrument he managed to sing roles throughout virtually the entire tenor fach. He did, however, stay away from the most taxing and heavy roles such as Otello. Besides being successful as an operatic singer he was also a prolific singing movie star richness and spontaneity in his voice.His technique allowed him to sing concerts well into his sixties. Unfortunately a heart attack ended his life prematurely when he was still active as a singer. Jan Kiepura died on August 15th, 1966.


No comments: