Stasys Baranauskas-Baras

Stasys Baranauskas-Baras sings Carmen: La fleur

Stasys Baranauskas-Baras had a dramatic tenor voice of beautiful timbre and rare power. He was born in Lithuania on May 26th., 1920. Baras studied singing in Kaunas during 1939-1940 with Jonas Butenas, student of the famous Italian baritone Mario Samarco. In 1940, he left Lithuania and stayed for nine years in displaced persons camps in Germany. He pursued his studies under Jonas Butenas and began to perform in concerts. The singer did several concert tours through England during 1948-1949. Covent Garden was interested in him, but emigration to the US had begun, and he decided to leave. In Chicago Baranauskas-Stasys Baras attended the studio of famous the Romanian singer Dmitri Onofrei. In 1956, the Lithuanian community collected donations for him and he was sent to study in Italy. There his teacher was Maria Casciolli, under whom Boris Christoff also studied at that time. Back in Chicago Stasys Baranauskas-Baras gave a concert with the famous soprano Lily Pons and the Chicago symphony orchestra. Unexpectedly, his life took a completely different turn. He began his career as a financier going up to vice-president and member of the board of directors at Standard Federal Savings and Loan Company in Chicago. Nevertheless, after studying in Italy he began a new stage and concert activity. And this fact was most clearly attested by the contest, held by The Chicago Tribune in 1958. Stasys Baranauskas-Baras took the first place and a gold medal. Several hundreds singers from US and Canada participated in this contest. After that, new prospects opened up for concert activity. Baranauskas-Baras performed with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, Bogota and others. The singer’s basic concert repertoire consisted of arias and ensembles from operas. Stasys Baranauskas-Baras joined the Chicago Lithuanian Opera in 1958. His best interpretations included Don José, Radames, Florestan, Canio, and Turiddu. Bernard Jacobson from Chicago daily News wrote about his “Fidelio”’s performance: “But the indisputable hero was Baranauskas-Baras. The voice itself is a glorious one, and it poured forth with unstinting ease from the sufferings of the dungeon aria through to the final exultation in which the superb dramatic artist expressed perfect and irresistible joy in every aspect. Baranauskas-Baras apparently devotes most of his time to business- he is a banker. But I can scarcely recall hearing a heroic tenor of this caliber in years, and it would be a major gain to the operatic stage if he could be prevailed on to adopt singing as a full-time career.” He died on July 12th, 2006 in Oak Brook, a Chicago suburb.
I wish to thank Vilijandas Bagdonavicius and Algirdas Bagdonavicius (Excerpts from Ona Narbutiene book “Stasys Baras”) for the notes and recording.

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