Oreste Kirkop

Oreste Kirkop was born in Hamrun, Malta on the 26th day of July 1923 and died on the 10th day of May 1998

He made his operatic debut in Cavalleria Rusticana at the Radio City Opera House, Hamrun as Turiddu, on the 24th February 1945.  For the next five years, he appeared in some 60 leading tenor roles.  He sung 10 different operas including IL FIGLIO DEL SOLE, a Maltese opera. This makes Oreste the Maltese tenor who sang most operas in Malta.  He sung in most theatres of the time with Maltese and also visiting Italian opera companies.  In 1949/1950, he also appeared in concerts with TITO GOBBI and MARIA CANIGLIA.

In 1950, he started his career abroad, adding other operatic roles.

Between 1954 and 1958 he was the principal tenor at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London.  He was the first Maltese to be exclusively engaged as a principal tenor and the first Maltese to sing a Major Principal role in this Opera House.  In 1953, he was chosen by the BBC to represent Malta for the "Coronation Commonwealth Gala".

In 1956 and 1957 he was the guest star at the Hollywood Bowl Concerts in Los Angeles, U.S.A.

In 1956 he performed the title role in Hollywood's Musical film THE VAGABOND KING.

Between 1957 and 1958 he was the principal tenor of the NBC Opera Company, New York.  He toured most major cities throughout the U.S.A while he was with this Opera Company.  He also appeared on T.V shows.  His performances were given in various big theatres and huge auditoriums where thousands of people could hear him sing for them, live on stage.  He was also the principal tenor in the first Rigoletto on T.V. in America in February 1958.

After his successful career, always in leading tenor roles, he retired in Malta in 1960.

The great music critic Harold Rosenthal, writing in Opera magazine, had this to say about Oreste:

"The Maltese tenor Oreste Kirkop proved himself to be a singer of real merit.  Good tenors are scarce everywhere and worth their weight in gold. Not since Gigli's appearance in Cavaradossi's role, has this been  so beautifully sung."

In 1979, Malta's state radio won an international competition "Portait of a Prominent Performing Artist." feature the career of Oreste Kirkop.

In March of this year, Oreste was honoured by the Malta Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, by being presented with its Gold Medal.

Oreste as the Duke in "Rigoletto" at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London