Stasys Baranauskas-Baras had a dramatic tenor voice of beautiful timbre and rare power. He was born in Lithuania (in
Mierčiai) on May 26th, 1920. Baras studied
singing in Kaunas in 1939/40 with Jonas Būtėnas, student of the famous Italian baritone Mario Sammarco.
In 1944, he left Lithuania and stayed in displaced persons camps in Germany. The singer did several concert tours through
England in 1948/49. Covent Garden
was interested in him,
but his emigration process to the US had begun, and he decided to leave.
In Chicago, Baranauskas-Baras attended the studio of the famous Romanian singer Dimitri Onofrei.
In 1956, the Lithuanian community collected donations
for him, and he was sent to study in Italy. There his teacher was Maria Casciolli, with whom also Boris Christoff 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, he pursued a 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 had participated in that
contest. After that, new prospects opened up for his concert activities.
Baranauskas-Baras performed with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, Bogotá 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 of the Chicago Daily News wrote about his "Fidelio" 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.