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Kopčák's bass returns to Philharmonic after 15 years

ONE of the leading bass singers in contemporary opera, Slovak Sergej Kopčák was the highlight of the January 16 concert at the Slovak Philharmonic (SF). It was the first time in 15 years that the long-time guest soloist of the Metropolitan Opera in New York had been on the Philharmonic's stage.
"I have done quite a lot over the last 15 years. I have worked with top conductors and directors around the world. And I am satisfied," Kopčák said.


THE OPERA singer (left) with conductor Gribanov.
photo: Courtesy of SF

ONE of the leading bass singers in contemporary opera, Slovak Sergej Kopčák was the highlight of the January 16 concert at the Slovak Philharmonic (SF). It was the first time in 15 years that the long-time guest soloist of the Metropolitan Opera in New York had been on the Philharmonic's stage.

"I have done quite a lot over the last 15 years. I have worked with top conductors and directors around the world. And I am satisfied," Kopčák said.

The concert, dedicated to Russian composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, included symphonies by Andrej Petrov and Dmitry Shostakovich, and the Concerto for piano and orchestra Op. 21 by Boris Tishchenko, which featured pianist Miroslav Kultyšev. The soloists, accompanied by the Slovak Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, were led by the baton of Russian conductor Piotr Gribanov, who first introduced himself to Slovak audiences during the Philharmonic's previous season and conducted the closing concert of the recent modern music festival Melos-Ethos.

Kopčák was the event's most highly anticipated performer, as his appearances on the Slovak stage are rare. The last time Bratislava fans could hear and see him was in 1996, in the role of Mephistopheles at the Slovak National Theatre. He previously appeared at the Slovak Philharmonic on October 12, 1989 in Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem.

Since 1983 he has been engaged at the Metropolitan Opera, where he has performed parts in such world-renowned operas as Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky's Eugen Onegin, and Verdi's Rigoletto. He has also travelled to other leading opera houses, including London's Covent Garden, where he started his international career in 1982.

"Kopčák's popularity throughout the world is at the highest level," said Martina Tostová, press secretary at the Philharmonic. "Every opera soloist dreams of performing at the world's top venues. It's difficult to get there, but even more difficult to stay there. And Kopčák has managed to keep his post as guest soloist at the Metropolitan Opera for over 20 years."

An "occasional" professor at his alma mater, the Bratislava University of Performing and Drama Arts, Kopčák was born in the municipality of Dačov, a district of the eastern Slovak city of Prešov, on April 23, 1948. His professional career started in the Banská Bystrica theatre scene, as was the case with other Slovak opera stars, including Edita Gruberová, Ľubica Orgonášová, and the Babjak family. Later, he cancelled engagements in his home country, as he felt a kind of disinterest from the side of the organisers.

Fond of Italian and Russian operas, as well as the contemporary works of his compatriots, Kopčák says he does not long to perform on home stages.

"The attitude of Slovak [institutions] towards me is not the one I would have expected. I am satisfied with what I achieved. I have solved things myself."

Zuzana Habšudová

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