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In celebration of Polish tenor Jan Kiepura

06.08.2022 11:45
A festival in tribute to the legendary Polish tenor Jan Kiepura opens on Saturday in the mountain spa of Krynica, a place where in the 1930s the singer built a luxurious villa named Patria.
Jan Kiepura onstage in Poland, 1958.
Jan Kiepura onstage in Poland, 1958.Photo: PAP/CAF/Zbigniew Matuszewski

The programme of the event includes vocal recitals by such internationally-renowned stars as soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and tenor Rafał Bartmiński, performances of Johann Strauss’ Der Zigeuerbaron and Emmerich Kalman’s Gräfin Mariza, as well as Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, a ballet production by the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Lviv.

The Kiepura Festival, now in its 55th edition, runs until August 13.

This year’s event marks the 120th anniversary of the singer’s birth, in Sosnowiec, southern Poland.  As his parents wanted him to become a lawyer, he initially studied law at the University of Warsaw, at the same time taking vocal lessons with some of the musical celebrities of 1920s Warsaw.

He made his operatic debut as Faust in Gounod’s opera in Lviv in 1925. A year later, he went to Vienna and appeared as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca at the city’s Staatsoper.

Kiepura subsequently developed a spectacular career, with performances in Berlin, Milan’s La Scala, the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as on Broadway and in films.

He often performed alongside his wife, the Hungarian singer and actress Marta Eggerth.

One of the first idols of mass culture, Kiepura attracted a crowd of more than 40,000 to his 1942 concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

To please his fans, he often sang standing on taxi roofs and from balconies. He always stressed his Polish roots and his love for his hometown of Sosnowiec.

Kiepura died on August 15, 1966, of a heart attack, at his residence near New York, two days after a concert for Polish Americans in Port Chester.

In line with his last will, he was buried at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.