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Jan Kiepura

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Biography

This handsome Polish tenor became renowned both for the beauty of his voice and his characterizations on the concert stage and in films. Kiepura began his education by studying law in Warsaw, but soon switched to voice studies with Waclaw Brzezinski and Tadeusz Leliwa, and later Garbin in Milano. In 1924, Kiepura made his debut in Lvov in Gounod's Faust. He auditioned and was accepted for the Vienna Staatsoper, making his very successful debut on September 21, 1926, in Tosca. Kiepura sang Calaf in Turandot 11 times during his first season and remained a guest artist, though he was never a member of the Staatsoper. In 1927, he sang the lead male role in Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, sharing the stage with the legendary Lotte Lehmann. After Vienna, Kiepura sang in Milano (La Scala in Tosca, Manon, Turandot, Le Preziose Ridicole), Paris (both at the Opéra and Opéra Comique), Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Brussels, Budapest, Prague, Havana, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and made his American debut in Chicago in 1931. In the 1930s, Kiepura began acting in movies, which made him very popular and even the object of a cult following. Kiepura appeared in a total of 20 movies, several of which were made in alternate versions in different languages, such as his first two films Die singende Stadt (1930) and the American version City of Song (1931), in both of which Kiepura played the role of Giovanni Cavallone. J'aime toutes les femmes and Ich liebe alle Frauen (I Love All the Women) were both made in 1935, and he was in La chanson d'une nuit and the German version Das Lied einer Nacht (The Song of Night, 1932), in which Kiepura appeared as Ferraro. Kiepura often appeared with his wife, soprano Marta Eggerth, whom he married in 1936. After starring in Das Abenteuer geht weiter (The Adventure Goes Forward, 1939), aka Jede Frau hat ein süsses Geheimnis (Every Wife Has a Sweet Secret), he ceased making films until he re-emerging at the end of the war with four productions: Addio Mimí (1947), aka Her Wonderful Life (U.S.A., 1950); Valse brillante (1948); Absender unbekannt (Sender Unknown, 1950); and Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles, 1952). From 1938-1942, Kiepura sang at New York's Metropolitan, where he appeared in La bohème, Carmen, Manon, Tosca, and Rigoletto. He also worked in many American opera houses, appeared in movies, and performed for three years in a Broadway production of Franz Lehár's operetta Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). Twenty years later, Kiepura returned to Vienna to appear in Lehár's Zarewitsch (Czarina).

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Born:

16 May 1902 in Sosnowiec, Poland

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Years Active:

'00s, '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s