Nikos Moraïtis

(1880-1938)

Picture of Nikos Moraïtis

Nicolas Moraitis was born in Athens in 1880. He was of humble origin and his father was a plasterer or traded in building materials. He had a very rudimentary general and musical education.
At an unknown date he married Athena Sko˙tari. He made his military service at the corps of engineers where his voice was noted. He studied with Dionyssios Lavrangas who also said that Moraitis's voice reminded him of Ioannis Apostolou.
He became a member of Lavrangas Opera Company (Elliniko Melodrama). It is said that he learnt eight operas in six months: "The Parliamentary Candidate" by Xyndas, Bizet's "Carmen", Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana", Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "La favorita" and Verdi's "Ernani", "La traviata" and "Rigoletto".
He must have made his debut in early 1901 in "The Parliamentary Candidate" and with such a success that he was forced to repeat twice and thrice the romanza "Panda enthymo˙me" (I always remember). On 28 August 1901 he sang the role of the Duke in "Rigoletto" and gave three encores of "La donna Ŕ mobile".
He won a reputation for going fearless into the highest register (C's and D's). In 1905 he sang in Smyrna, Corfu , Constantinople and Thessaloniki. In 1907-1908 he made a long tour in Khaniß (Canea, Crete) "where the public was moved to enthusiasm by his sweet voice".
In 1908 he was engaged to sing in Egypt (Alexandria and Cairo) where "he won universal acclaim" as Ernani and in the title role of "Marcos Botsaris" an opera by Greek composer Pavlos Carrer.
From October 1911 to early 1912 he made a tour to Constantinople, Constanza, Braila, Bucharest and Odessa, where he sang in "Ernani" and "Tosca" with the famous Italian baritone Eugenio Giraldoni (1871-1924) who had created the role of Scarpia.
From Odessa he went to Milan for further studies but he only stayed there for a few months and returned to Greece, scared by the outbreak of the First World War.
In Athens he sang "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci" and made frequent appearances in Greek operas, such as "La Martire" by Spyros Samaras, "O Protomastoras" (The Master Builder) (1916) and "To Dachtylidi tis Manas" (Mother's Ring (1917)), both by Manolis Kalomiris.
In Autumn 1924 he toured the U.S.A. With Artemis Kyparissi, Michalis Vlachopoulos and baritone Elias Ekonomidis and made a large number of recordings for the "Acropolis" National Greek Opera Records, a Company formed by Greek expatriates expressly for that purpose.
In 1928 he sang "Ernani" in Athens and in February 1933 in Corf˙, "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "La traviata" with Elvira de Hidalgo. He sang for the last time in April 1936 in a broadcast of the "Hymn of CassianÝ" in a chorus along with the bass Nicola Moscona. He died on 6 March 1938 of "cardiac angina". On his gravestone there is the following inscription: "Nicos Moraitis, the Nightingale of the Elliniko Melodrama".
The modern listener, accustomed to a completely different style of interpretation, finds it difficult, upon a first hearing, to associate the strange, old-world expressiveness of his warm voice in the "Siciliana" of "Cavalleria Rusticana" with the descriptions of the vocal, musical and interpretative qualities of Moraitis. Undoubtly, he was a man of his time and a tenor of his time.

Nikos Moraïtis singsCavalleria Rusticana: Siciliana
In RA Format

Nikos Moraïtis singsAnamnisis Smyrnis
In RA Format
I wish to thank George Leotsakos and Juan Dzazˇpulos for the biographical notes.
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the record (Cavalleria rusticana) and picture.

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