Jan Kusiewicz

21 September 1921 Rzeplin (Jaroslaw district) – 5 April 2015 Gdańsk

Picture of Jan Kusiewicz in King Roger
In Król Roger (on the right)

Picture of Jan Kusiewicz with his brother
With his brother

Jan Kusiewicz singsIl trovatore: Di quella pira, in Polish
In RA format

Jan Kusiewicz singsDer Zigeunerbaron: Ja, das alles auf Ehr', in Polish
In RA format

Jan Kusiewicz singsAida: O terra, addio, in Polish (with unknown partners)
In RA format

Jan Kusiewicz singsLa fanciulla del West: Ch'ella mi creda
In RA format

Jan Kusiewicz is one of the best Polish singers of the second half of the 20th century. His artistic achievements were known on the biggest Polish opera scenes, and overseas. He was a true ambassador of Polish culture, as he propagated the works of Polish composers around the world.

He grew up in Toruń, and sang since he was very young.

The story of his life is very unusual, especially during the Second World War. He was arrested in Toruń by the Gestapo (he had been an active member of the Polish anti-Nazi resistance movement), taken to the Bydgoszcz prison, and then taken to the Stutthoff Concentration camp. The years spent in the concentration camp remained the nightmare of his life. He escaped with his life in miraculous circumstances – the day before the liberation of the camp, the prisoners were marched to the outside wall, made to stand against that wall, and were shot by machine guns. Only a few survived, Kusiewicz was one of them, as he fell to the soil as soon as the first machine gun sounded. He was lucky, as the SS did not check if all the prisoners had died.

After the war, he studied with the famous professor Stefan Belina-Skupiewski, a famous Polish tenor who sang at La Scala and other European opera houses. Kusiewicz learned Italian belcanto from his teacher, and became the first tenor of the Baltic Opera in Gdańsk. For more than 25 years he sang Italian, French, Russian and Polish operas. He was always "in good voice" – he could sing Radames several times in one week, and his voice carried well and was fresh. He had an excellent high C that he could sing at anytime, anywhere.

His most famous roles were Cavaradossi, Don Carlo, Almaviva, Hoffmann, Lenskij, Jeník, Faust, Turiddu, Astrologer (Krakatuk by Tadeusz Szeligowski), Don Ottavio, Calaf, and Manrico. He also sang many oratorio pieces, masses and cantatas by Bach, the 9th Symphony by Beethoven, and the Requiems by Mozart and Verdi.

He also starred in the film Pamietnik pani Hanki (Mrs Hanka's diary) as the legendary Jan Kiepura.

He received many awards, including the Cross of the Knight, and the Cross of the Officer's Order in Poland.

He was the father of tenor Piotr Kusiewicz.

I wish to thank Piotr Kusiewicz for the biographical notes.
I wish to thank Imogen Norcroft and Piotr Kusiewicz for the recordings.

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