Saturday, February 9, 2008

La morte é il nulla! A tribute to Kostas Paskalis

Kostas Paskalis as Barnaba in La Gioconda

A year after Kostas Paskalis' death and parsifal's has prepared a tribute to the legendary greek singer with rare photos, videos, obituaries, interviews and links to rare recordings of the great baritone.

Kostas Paskalis

Baritone with a huge range of operatic roles

Alan Blyth
Friday March 9, 2007
The Guardian

The Greek baritone Kostas Paskalis, who has died aged 77, was one of the finest singing actors of the past 50 years. Anyone who encountered him as I did in his major creations at Glyndebourne and Covent Garden vividly recalls his amazing stage presence and his firm, resonant, well-integrated voice.

Born in Livadia, near Delphi, he studied initially the piano in Athens and sang in the chorus of the Greek National Opera. When a soloist fell ill, he made his debut there in 1951 as Rigoletto, which would become one of his favourite roles. In 1958 he made his debut as Renato in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Vienna State Opera where he sang for some 25 years, always much acclaimed. He made his first British appearance as Verdi's Macbeth at Glyndebourne in 1964, a role preserved on DVD. It was and is a remarkable enactment of the troubled anti-hero's part, and he returned in 1967 as an equally remarkable Don Giovanni.

He made his Covent Garden debut, again as Macbeth, in 1969, and returned to the house as Scarpia, Rigoletto and Iago: the last-named another tour de force. He was utterly believable as the man who convinces Otello of Desdemona's inconstancy. You could see him working his evil purposes, while maintaining an outward credibility. Everything was delivered in that peculiarly tangy voice of his.

At the Metropolitan, New York, he introduced himself as Don Carlo in Verdi's La forza del destino in 1965, returning as Ford in the same composer's Falstaff. At La Scala, he sang Valentin in Faust in 1967. At the Salzburg festival, he created Pentheus in Henze's The Bassarids in 1966. He also made his mark at the opera houses of Rome, Florence, Berlin, Munich, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.

His repertory included Rossini's Figaro, William Tell, Barnaba (La Gioconda), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) and Yevgeny Onegin, but it was in Verdi that he was heard at his best, excelling as Posa (Don Carlos), Amonasro (Aida), Luna (Trovatore), the title role in Simon Boccanegra, Germont (La Traviata) and Nabucco. That is a formidable array of roles equalled by few other baritones of his or any day.

He sang 640 times at the Vienna State Opera, making his final appearance at that house in May 1986 as Sharpless. Latterly he taught in his home city of Athens, where he died.

Paskalis never gave a routine performance. His penetrating eyes, his imposing presence on stage, and his appropriate body language for the role in hand marked him out as a truly impressive performer in everything he did. His wife was the Romanian soprano Marina Krilovici.

· Kostas Paskalis, baritone, born September 1 1929; died February 9 2007

Kostas Paskalis as Scarpia

The Independent

Kostas Paskalis

Warm-toned baritone singer

Friday, 1 June 2007

Kostas Paskalis, baritone singer: born Levadia, Greece 1 September 1929; married Marina Krilovici; died Athens 9 February 2007.

Kostas Paskalis was a baritone with a warm-toned, resonant voice, a keen sense of rhythm, impeccable diction and strong dramatic drive. It was therefore only natural that he should become one of the finest Verdi baritones of his generation.

A member of the Vienna State Opera for 20 years, he also sang in New York, London, Berlin and many other cities throughout Europe and North America, as Rigoletto, Macbeth, Nabucco, Iago in Otello and at least half a dozen other Verdi roles. His repertory also included Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin and Scarpia in Tosca.

Paskalis was born in Levadia, near Delphi, in 1929. He studied piano and voice at the Royal Conservatory in Athens, making his début in that city in 1954 as Rigoletto - a very heavy role for a young man of 25. He continued to sing in Athens for some years, then in 1958 first appeared in Vienna as Renato in Un ballo in maschera. Over the next two decades he sang the Marquis of Posa in Don Carlos, Rigoletto, Amonasro in Aida and other Verdi characters, as well as Harlequin in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos in Vienna.

Paskalis made his British début at Glyndebourne in 1964 in the title role of Macbeth. This was one of his finest Verdi interpretations; he seemed to find endless variety in the character, and his performance of the role continued to improve throughout his career. He made his Covent Garden début as Macbeth in 1969; he sang it opposite Birgit Nilsson as Lady Macbeth in Vienna in 1970; he returned to Glyndebourne in 1972 for a new production. Each time he managed to find something new in the motivation that an honourable man become a murderer. Later his Macbeth was also admired in Florence, Dallas and Catania.

In 1965 Paskalis made his Metropolitan début as Don Carlo in La forza del destino. Though his performance was a success, he was not invited back to the Met until 1972, when he sang Ford in Falstaff there. In 1966 he sang Rigoletto and Posa in Rome, then appeared at the Salzburg Festival, creating the role of Pentheus in the first performance of Hans Werner Henze's opera The Bassarids. The following summer he was back at Glyndebourne, singing Don Giovanni, his only Mozart role. He repeated The Bassarids at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 1968; in Berlin he also sang Count di Luna in Il trovatore, Posa and the title role of Simon Boccanegra from his extensive Verdi repertory.

Paskalis scored a great personal triumph at San Francisco in 1970, when he sang Iago in Otello. This was another particularly fine Verdi characterisation, possibly even greater than his Macbeth. He sang Iago at Covent Garden in 1972 with Jon Vickers as Otello, an unforgettalble experience; five years later the two singers repeated their roles together in London, in an even more incandescent performance. Paskalis sang Iago at Strasbourg in 1973, when one critic exclaimed "What a voice! What a musician!" He also sang Iago in Munich in 1975 and in Houston in 1979. On both these occasions the Otello was again Jon Vickers.

At Covent Garden in the 1970s Paskalis also sang Rigoletto and Scarpia. On the latter occasion Gwyneth Jones was the Tosca and Placido Domingo (making his Covent Garden début) the Cavaradossi. He continued singing to the end of the decade, appearing at Trieste as Eugene Onegin; in Frankfurt at a concert performance of Rossini's Guillaume Tell; in Dallas as Giorgio Germont in La Traviata with Beverly Sills as Violetta; and in New Orleans as Scarpia, with Marina Krilovici (his wife) as Tosca, and as Nabucco, with Rita Hunter as Abigaille.

Elizabeth Forbes

Kostas Paskalis in his last operatic role, Simon Boccanegra in Athens 1995
Levadia, Boeotia, September 1, 1929 — Athens, February 9, 2007

The baritone was one of Europe's most admired and in-demand Verdians in the 1960s and '70s, celebrated for his vivid acting, virile presence and dark, expansive tone. Paskalis studied piano at Athens Conservatory before deciding to work for a vocal diploma, and sang in the chorus of Greek National Opera prior to making his principal debut there, as Rigoletto, in 1951. Paskalis learned and sang all his roles in Greek until he was "discovered" by a Viennese agent while singing Orest in an Athens performance of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride in 1958. His first non-Greek performance was his Wiener Staatsoper debut later that same year, as Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, opposite Birgit Nilsson and Giuseppe di Stefano, and conducted by his compatriot, Dimitri Mitropoulos. Paskalis remained associated with the Staatsoper for twenty-five years and more than 600 performances in a repertory that covered most of the major Verdi baritone roles, as well as Escamillo, Sharpless, Scarpia and Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana. His most celebrated characterizations on the international stage were probably Rigoletto, Iago and Macbeth. It was as Macbeth that Paskalis made his much-lauded 1964 British debut, at Glyndebourne — Harold Rosenthal of Opera said that the baritone's performance was "on the very highest plane" — as well as his 1969 debut at Covent Garden, where he later returned for Iago, Rigoletto and Scarpia. Other important European associations for the baritone were with Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Rome Opera, Paris Opera and in Hamburg, Mannheim and Florence. Paskalis's most notable encounter with twentieth-century opera was the 1966 world premiere of Henze's Die Bassariden at Salzburg, in which he created Pentheus. Paskalis later sang in the opera's Italian premiere (in Italian) at La Scala in 1967-68, but refused an offer to perform Pentheus in a third language, when The Bassarids had its first performances in English later that season, at Santa Fe Opera.

Paskalis was less active in North America than in Europe, although he sang with San Francisco Opera (Iago and Scarpia), New Orleans Opera Association (Scarpia and Nabucco) and Houston Grand Opera (Iago), among other companies, and was Alfonso in the sensational 1965 Carnegie Hall performance of Lucrezia Borgia that marked the international emergence of Montserrat Caballé. Paskalis made his Met debut in 1965, as Don Carlo in La Forza del Destino, and returned to the company for sixteen subsequent performances, among them outings as Ford in Falstaff, Valentin in Faust, Rossini's Figaro and — in 1967 concerts in Newport, RI — as Guido di Monforte in I Vespri Siciliani and Macbeth.

From 1988–90, Paskalis was artistic director of Greek National Opera; in an interview last year, the baritone called these years "difficult" and said that he preferred not to discuss them, although he was critical of the Greek government's lack of support for opera and classical music. In the years since his retirement from singing, he remained active as a teacher and as a competition judge.

Kostas Paskalis and Montserrat Caballe in Trovatore


Kostas Paskalis

Greek opera singer whose warm baritone earned him the affection of the capricious Viennese public

The international career of the Greek baritone Kostas Paskalis was wide-ranging and successful, and if it was less spectacular than his gifts would have led one to expect it was because of his steadfast loyalty to the Vienna State Opera, a loyalty that was rewarded with the affection of the notoriously capricious Viennese public.

The facts speak for themselves: having made his Vienna debut in 1958 as Ankarström in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, between then and 1986 Paskalis sang no fewer than 640 performances there in 34 roles.

He was born in Boeotia at Levadeia, not far from Delphi, and entered the National Conservatory in Athens to study piano and composition. The discovery of his voice caused him to change course, and at 22 he made his stage debut in Athens as Rigoletto. Although after 1958 his base became Vienna, he sang in Athens until 1960.

Paskalis’s first appearance in Britain was in 1964 at Glynde-bourne in Verdi’s Macbeth, when his voice was described as “dark-hued, placed well forward, and used with consummate skill and artistry” and his performance summed up as “a most compelling interpretation of the role”. He was equally successful when he returned in 1967 as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which John Warrack wrote of as “played with conquering charm and a glinting menace in his handsome voice”.

An international career now opened to him, and he arrived at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1965 as Don Carlo in La forza del destino. But despite praise for his voice he does not seem to have aroused great interest, and though he returned to the Met at intervals over the following decade he was in that time offered only 17 performances. His talents were better appreciated in Europe; he was heard in Rome from 1965, Barcelona in 1966, and in Naples, Kiev, Leningrad, Moscow and Berlin. He continued to clock up regular appearances in Vienna.

Paskalis’s debut at La Scala, Milan, came in 1966 as Valentin in Gounod’s Faust, and the same year he created the part of Pentheus in the premiere of Henze’s The Bassarids at Salzburg. His first appearance at Covent Garden took place in 1969, once more as Macbeth, in a performance so compelling that it was judged to have swung the dramatic balance of the opera back to the man himself and away from his formidable lady. Alan Blyth wrote that “the Apparitions scene was superb, rightly winning him a prolonged ovation”. He returned to Covent Garden several times, as Iago in Otello, Scarpia in Tosca, and as Rigoletto, and always with success.

After his farewell performances in Vienna as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Paskalis returned to Greece where in 1988 he became director of the Greek National Opera and sang Simon Boccanegra with Athens Opera as late as 1995.

Throughout his career Paskalis displayed great versatility: his repertoire extended from Ottone in Monteverdi’s Poppea and Orestes in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride to Henze and Demetrius in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Even so, it is as a Verdi singer of rare taste and style that his admirers will remember him. His voice was a fine, high baritone, warm and flexible, not of huge size but produced so well as to fill comfortably the largest theatres without the need to bellow. He was also an excellent actor with one of those compelling personalities that draw all eyes regardless of what else is happening around him.

Sadly, he made few records, of which the best is probably the EMI Carmen in which he sings Escamillo, recorded in 1969 with a starry cast and conducted by Fröhbeck de Burgos.

Paskalis was married for many years to the Romanian soprano Marina Krilovici.

Kostas Paskalis, operatic baritone, was born on September 1, 1929. He died on February 9, 2007 aged 77

With his wife, soprano Marina Krilovici

The most beautiful Macbeth in operatic history

For Parsifal
Kostas Paskalis
an idol of his youth
a voice he cherishes
a great man with a warm heart

Private photo of Kostas Paskalis

One of the last photos of Kostas Paskalis

A most handsome Don Giovanni in Glyndebourne, 1967.

An extraordinary Conte di Luna

As Macbeth with Marta Pender as Lady Macbeth in a 1964 Glyndebourne production.

With Nicola Zaccaria, as SimonBoccanegra in Athens 1967

Here you will find an extremely rare compilation of Kostas Paskalis singing Verdi, all recordings of the Greek National Radio.

Kostas Paskalis and Anthony Michael-Moore during a reception after the premiere of Don Carlo in Athens in May 2006 where the latter was singing Rodrigo (Photo by Haris Akriviadis)

From a Metropolitan Opera programme, season 1971-72 when Paskalis was singing Don Carlo in la Forza del Destino next to Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli (with Carlo Bergonzi in the alternative cast)

At parsifal's one can already find the most wonderful OTELLO with Placido Domingo, Kostas Paskalis and Margaret Price

Otello - G. Verdi

Otello: Placido Domingo
Iago: Kostas Paskalis
Desdemona: Margaret Price
Emilia: Jane Berbie
Cassio: Hosrt Laubenthal
ROdrigo: Robert Dume
Opera de Paris - Nello Santi
Paris, 13 July 1978



You can also download a recording of Paskalis' trademark role, Macbeth with the extraordinary Birgit Nilsson next to him.

Macbeth: Kostas Paskalis
Lady Macbeth: Birgit Nilsson
Macduff: Ion Buzea
Banquo: Tumogir Franc
Malcolm: Ewald Alchberger
Lady in waiting: Gildis Flossmann
Doctor: Lyubomir Pantscheff
Vienna State Opera
Maestro Berislav Klobucar
Vienna 13 September 1970

On the 27th of January 2003 the University of Athens awarded Kostas Paskalis with the higher academic title, that of honorary doctor. Here's a foto from the ceremony:

As Don Giovanni next to Teresa Zylis-Gara, Glyndebourne 1967

Click to enlarge: Falstaff at the Met, 1972, with Paskalis singing Ford next to (!!!) Renata Tebaldi, Tito Gobbi, Andrea Velis, Roberta Peters, Regina Resnik, Luigi Alva etc in a Franco Zeffirelli production

A cropped video of Iago's Credo has been uploaded before but here you can watch the whole scene and admire Paskalis' magnificent interpretation

Watch Kostas Paskalis singing the finale of his Macbeth aria (Pietá, rispetto, amore) from Glyndebourne, and then a short interview, part of a documentary of the Greek TV, that was telecast in 2007 and was finished and edited just 3 days before his death (by director Ilias Yannakakis)

Exclusive material: Kostas Paskalis singing in the world premiere of the opera "Manuel Salinas", in Athens 1994.

More rarities: Listen to Kostas Paskalis singing "Dunque io son" in greek(!!!) next to Angela Lalaouni's Rosina, Athens, early 50's(?)

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and Kostas Paskalis singing "Eri tu" from Un Ballo in Maschera, also in greek, but this time not in Athens but Leipzig, with the Gewandhaus orchestra in 1957

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Kostas Paskalis singing a part of the "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías", music by Stavros Xarhakos

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Kostas Paskalis singing Rigoletto´s "Cortigiani, vil razza, dannata" , studio recording, Athens, during the 60's

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An article from a greek newspaper of the era-1958-, announcing that Kostas Paskalis was urgently invited to Vienna to sing Renato in "Un ballo in Maschera" under his compatriot Dimitri Mitropoulos
(Next to him in that Ballo sang Giuseppe Di Stefano and Birgit Nilsson and it was the first time that Paskalis was to sing abroad)

A very young Paskalis in the early 50's

Maria Callas and old colleagues, among them Kostas Paskalis (white shirt, behind the lady with the white stripped hair), Athens 1957

Autograph of Dimitri Mitropoulos reading:
"To Kostas Paskalis in remembrance of our collaboration
Vienna 9-10-1958
Dimitris Mitropoulos"

Kostas Paskalis singing Carlo's aria from Ernani "Lo vedremo veglio audace" in Athens, 50's

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Anonymous said...

a re parsi ti dulia ekanes pali!!!
bravo, super afieroma!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Bravo!

Anonymous said...

DANG @ Parsifal! Well done! This is an excellent resource.

Chester said...

A wonderful singer. I only saw live his Figaro; I wish i had heard him in Verdi.

DM said...

πολύ ενδιαφέρον, χρήσιμο κ καλοφτιαγμένο αφιέρωμα.
Μακάρι να είχε μιμητές κ ανάμεσα σε αυτούς που έχουν σχετικά με το θέμα πόστα (ΕΛΣ, ΥΠΠΟ, κλπ)

Anonymous said...

Chapeau! Έχω πάθει και στερητικό σύνδρομο που δεν μπορώ να μπω σε όλα

KalliopiD said...

Pws na mhn tu aresei tu Bidou tetoio afierwma...Barvo vre Parsi, eisai theos once again. Kai ayth h photo me Marina...

Anonymous said...

Συγχαρητήρια για το υπέροχο αφιέρωμα. Ο μεγάλος Κώστας Πασχάλης ήταν ένας καταπληκτικός βαρύτονος. Τώρα που γράφω τον ακούω σαν Rigoletto, έναν από τους πιο γνωστούς του ρόλους.
Δεν τιμούμε τους καλλιτέχνες μας της όπερας όσο θα τους άξιζε κι έχουμε αρκετούς, άνδρες και γυναίκες.

Anonymous said...

Πολύ ωραίο αφιέρωμα. Ευτυχώς που μου το υπέδειξαν. Συγχαρητήρια.
Πλησιάζουν τα δύο χρόνια από τον θάνατό του. La vita e il nulla.

Parsifal said...

Xairomai pou sas arese, opws k xairomai pou sas to ypedeiksan. Tha vreite k alla pragmata gia ton Paskali sto blog, k sth 2h epeteio tha exw k allo yliko...

Κωνσταντίνος said...


Δεν έκανες άλλο αφιέρωμα για την δεύτερη επέτειο, ή εγώ δεν μπορώ να το βρώ;

Parsifal said...

Ehmmmmm, oxi, h alh8eia einai...alla sto metaksy apekthsa k alla polla documents apo thn kariera tou Paskali, kapoia stigmh olo k kati 8a anevasw, sto tube anevasa diafora pantws

Κωνσταντίνος said...

Δεν πειράζει, φίλε μου. Να είσαι καλά και να μας κάνεις πάντα ωραία αφιερώματα.

Αλήθεια, για την Έλενα Σουλιώτη έχεις σκεφτεί τίποτε; Δεν πρέπει να την αφήσουμε να ξεχαστεί!

Parsifal said...

Η Σουλιώτη είχε πολύ ευρύτερη αναγνώριση/φήμη απο τον Πασχάλη. Αλλωστε μέχρι κ το θανατο της πριν λίγο καιρό, η ζωή της κ οι ηχογραφήσεις της ήταν θρυλικές για τους operalovers (όπως πχ. το επεισόδιο με τη Νορμα στη Νέα Υόρκη για το οποίο είχαν γράψει μέχρι κ οι εφημερίδες).

Ο Πασχάλης, σεμνός κ ταπεινός όπως ήταν, ξεχάστηκε γρήγορα στο εξωτερικό κ ειδικά στην Αμερική όπου έκανε μερικές από τις καλύτερες εμφανίσεις του. Νομίζω οτι σήμερα η φωνή του, πιο πολύ από παντού, είναι ζωντανή στη Βιέννη και από εκεί συνήθως μου έρχονται τόσο οι σπάνιες ηχογραφήσεις του όσο κ αφηγησεις αν8ρώπων που τον είδαν στη σκηνή.

Χεχε, και να φανταστείτε οτι για το δεύτερο αφιερωμα στον Πασχάλη ήθελα να βάλω βίντεο συνέντευξης του Πασχάλη στη Μιμή Ντενίση... θα το κάνω εν καιρώ...