Peter Baxevanos

29 September 1908 Thessaloniki – 24 June 1982 Vienna

Peter Baxevanos singsSommerliebe (film): Vela sul mar (Profes)

My father earned some pocket money as an extra at the Vienna Volksoper while studying in the early 1940s. Decades later, he would still rave about a Greek house tenor at the Volksoper at that time, and particularly about his Manrico: Peter Baxevanos. So that name was familiar to me since childhood, but the voice was of course not: it seemed that Baxevanos had never recorded. I was accordingly excited when I found him on Youtube, in a snippet from a German 1942 film (Sommerliebe), in which he had sung an Italian serenade. (It turned out that he had also performed that same song on what is obviously his only disc recording, see below.)

Peter (Petros) Baxevanos seems to have started his career in Athens in the early 1930s; in any case, he was living there at the time, made friends with conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos and tenor Vasso Argyris – and left, together with Argyris and on the advice of Mitropoulos, for Vienna for further and better vocal studies. That was in May 1932.

In 1934, he got a contract at the Vienna Volksoper (debut as Sly in Wolf-Ferrari's opera of the same name. In 1935, he moved to Zürich, where he stayed for three years and took part in two important world premieres: in Alban Berg's Lulu as Alwa (2 June 1937), and in Hindemith's Mathis der Maler as Kardinal Albrecht (28 May 1938).

From 1938 to 1940, Baxevanos sang in Kiel, then he returned to the Vienna Volksoper, where he stayed until 1947. From 1945 to 1955, the Volksoper was under the same management as the Staatsoper, which is why Baxevanos appears in numerous performances in the Staatsoper archives (as Don José, Jeník, Pinkerton, Canio and Cavaradossi), but that was in fact just the same activity at the Volksoper as before 1945. His only "real" Staatsoper performance (at the Theater an der Wien, at that time, since the Staatsoper building had been destroyed in the war) was on 9 February 1947, when he stepped in as German for Julius Patzak.

After 1947, he continued to live in Vienna, but not to sing; whether he retired from the stage that early, or whether he still made the guest appearances "in Germany and Italy, including the Rome Opera and La Scala" that Kutsch & Riemens chronicle somewhat vaguely, I do not know.

His repertory included, other than the roles already mentioned, also Tamino, Florestan, Duca, Riccardo, Don Carlo, Herodes or Primus Thaller (Kuhreigen by Wilhelm Kienzl).

His daughter Chariklia Baxevanos (born 1936) was a well-known TV, movie and theater actress.

Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens, reference 2

Polydor, Berlin, about October 1942 2058GSD Vela sul mar (Profes) (w. Lotte Lang) 57235
Source: Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien

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