Georgios Kokolios (AKA Giorgio Bardi)

(1916-1964)

Picture of Giorgios Kokolios
He was born Georgios (or Yorgos) Kokolios in 1916 in Athens, Greece and passed away in 1964. He was educated in Athens at the National Conservatory (Ethnikon Odeion) from 1941-45, and started singing in various Greek church choirs, notably in St Constantine (center of Athens, close to Omonoia Square), St Panteleimon (of Acharnon Street) and, during the German occupation, at St Loucas church on Patission Street.

At the National Conservatory he was a student of Kiki Vlahou (?- 1980), who had a great success educating tenors; another famous student of hers was George Zervanos, the main tenor of the Athens Lyric in the 1970 who passed away in 2007.

While at the Conservatory he was hired as a member of the chorus of the Athens Lyric Opera. In 1943 he was "promoted" to soloist and appeared first in Lehar's "Das Land des Lächelns". In 1944 he sung a minor role in Aida.

Perhaps his most known early appearance was as Jacquino in the historic performance of Beethoven's Fidelio staring the young Maria Callas. This performance was given at the Herodes Atticus Amphitheater in Athens on August 14, 1944 with Maria Callas as Leonora, Antonios Delendas as Florestan, Evangelos Magliveras as Pizzaro, Yorgos Moulas as Rocco, Zoe Vlachopoulou as Marzelline and Yorgos Kokolios as Jacquino, Hans Hörner conducting. There are numerous photographs from this memorable performance (see for example Nicholas Petsalis-Diomedes, The Unknown Callas, page 429, where Koklios is the one sitting in front of all the others).

While Maria Callas was accused as a collaborator of the Germans after 1945 (and left for the States) Kokolios was sided with the left and remained in Athens where he had a brilliant career, singing at the Athens Lyric Marta (Flotow), Carmen, Pagliacci , Mignon, Der Bettelstudent (Millöcker), Alceste (Gluck) and others between 1945 and 1949.

Maria Callas continued communicating with him and invited him in 1949 to Italy (through Vittorio Gui). He came to Rome and studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (1949-51) while taking also private lectures from Manfredo Polverosi (1886-1965, well known Italian tenor of the 1910s and 20s) and teacher of Rina Gigli and Guido Mancini.

Upon graduation, he started singing at the Communale of Florence and other Italian theaters. Already in 1950 he sung in Spontini's Olympia in Florence. On May 26, 1951 he sung Arrigo in Callas' Vespri Siciliani at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Maria Callas as Elena, Enzo Mascherini as Monforte and Boris Christoff as Procida, Erich Kleiber conducting. By that time he had adopted the name Giorgio Bardi (vardos in Greek is a medieval singer), mostly for recording purposes. [Kutsch and Riemens indicate his name was Giulio Bardi but this is not true. All recordings of that period indicate the name Giorgio Bardi].

Indeed, Georgios Kokolios has numerous recordings to his credit including Arrigo in the complete 1951 recording of I Vespri Siciliani (EMI, Legato, Astan, Gli Dei del Opera), the Duke of Mantova in a 1956 Rigoletto from the Theatro Eliseo di Roma with Frank Valentino as Rigoletto (American Record Society), Riccardo in a 1953 Ballo in Maschera from the Teatro Eliseo (Plymouth), Pinkerton in a 1954 Madama Butterfly with Maria Leone, Brenda Lewis and "Members of the Metropolitan Opera" (sic, Allegro, Ultraphonic). However, the Met Annals do not show that he ever sung with them.

In 1951 he visited Moscow and Leningrad and appeared both at the Boshoi and the Kirov in Rigoletto and Aida. Soon thereafter he returned to Greece where -in the Fall 1952- he appeared as Don Jose in Carmen, Cavaradossi in Tosca and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Later he was also Enzo Grimaldo in La Gioconda, Nemorino, etc. He also sung Petros (the role introduced by Umberto Pentivoglio) in the new presentation of Spiro Samara's "The Princess of Sasson".

He passed away on September 9,1964. He was married to Ileana Prifti.

Along with Giovanni Apostolou, Costa Milona, Pavlos Raptis and Michael Theodorou, Georgios Kokolios-Bardi has been one of the best Greek tenors of the last 130 years.

Georgios Kokolios singsUn ballo in maschera: Forse la soglia attinse ... Ma se m'è forza perderti
In RA Format

Georgios Kokolios singsLa Fanciulla del West: Ch'ella mi creda
In RA Format
I wish to thank Nicholas Peppas for the Biographical Notes.

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