Oreste Kirkop (Chircop)

[Malta 1923 - 1998]

Picture of Oreste Kirkop in Rigoletto
Oreste Kirkop in Rigoletto

Oreste KirkopLa Bohème: Che gelida manina
In RA Format

I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recording and the picture.
Kirkop’s debut (in Cav. Rusticana) took place at the Radio City Opera House, Hamrun, in 1945. Following this, he sang in a staggering 60 roles during the next 5 years, in Malta and Italy. During 1949-50 he performed with such as Caniglia and Gobbi in concerts in Italy. In the 1950s he began to accept invitations from Covent Garden (“Boheme” and “Rigoletto”), the BBC, and in USA (Hollywood Bowl concerts). This last move presented him with a role in Paramount’s “The Vagabond King” (1956) with Kathryn Grayson (directed by Michael Curtis). The NBC Opera Company appointed him as one of its leading tenors (1957) with whom he travelled the country, and one consequence of this link was the TV film (1958) of “Rigoletto” with Kirkop as the Duke of Mantua (with Igor Gorin as an excellent Rigoletto) for which he had the ability, looks and bearing. He retired in 1960.
The voice is warm, smooth (occasionally reminiscent of Bergonzi / Sullivan / Melton), with a Mediterranean enthusiasm. He uses a few aspirates to get by, alongside good breath control, intonation and diction. One of his best features is the ability and readiness to fine down the voice at the end of phrases. The low end of his voice is well founded; the top range exists.
Whilst one may include him in the ‘Class B’ listing, he can produce startling performances (e.g. ‘Vesti la giubba’, ‘O dolce mani’) that compete with the best; ‘pirated’ examples of Kirkop in ‘Boheme’ show excellent acting with others, much vocal shading and delightful use of words.
He never sounds as though he is just ‘going through the motions’. A tenor worth hearing.
Keith A. Shilcock

Oreste KirkopPagliacci: Vesti la giubba
In RA Format

I wish to thank Keith A. Shilcock for the recording (Pagliacci) and the biograpical notes.

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