Bronx Opera

Bohdan Sikora performed as a soloist from 2004


“The happiest moment of my life”

Lyubov Dmytryshyn-Chasto

So begins Ukrainian Opera Singer, Bohdan Sikora, after sitting down with the National Tribune editorial office in order to share his achievements. This “happiest moment”, or rather—event, happened February 16, 2004 at 2pm, when Mr. Sikora Auditioned for the Bronx Opera. 

Listening in was Artistic Director Mr. Michael Spierman. 

— I sang him Cavaradossi’s second aria E lucevan le stelle from Puccini’s Tosca, and Idamante’s aria from Mozart’s Idomeneo. He thanked me and asked where I was from. From Lviv, I replied, to which he exclaimed that his father was born in Simferopol…

Bohdan Sikora was born in Lviv, to a musical family. His father Volodymyr Sikora—soloist of the Honored State Academic Capella of Ukraine Boyan (conducted by Peoples’ Artist of Ukraine, Professor Eugene Vakhnyak), and Cathedral Choir soloist at the Church of St. George. His mother, by nature, had a wonderful high soprano. From age 10, his parents enrolled him in a music studio to learn the bayan (accordion), after which he entered the Filaret Kolessa Musical and Pedagogical College. There, he was captured by singing, and attributes this to his father, who gifted him a cassette tape of famous opera singer Anatoliy Solovianenko, for his birthday. He listened to his songs for hours and learned to sing. His first vocal teacher was Lyubov Yeshchenko — a student of our famous opera singer Solomiya Krushelnytska — to whom Bohdan would attend lessons twice a week. She prepared her student well for his first audition with the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Carpathian Army District. The chorusmaster Mykola Lopushynskiy liked the youth’s voice and enrolled him in the ensemble, where he continued to sing for four years, polishing his performative skill. 

But, Bohdan took a liking to opera, and entered the Lysenko State Conservatory in Lviv. Where he studied singing under the Peoples’ Artist of Ukraine, Baritone Oleksandr Vrabel, soloist of the Lviv Opera. A lot of his graduates found fame across the world: Zurich Opera soloist, Stephan Pyatnychko, Warsaw Opera soloist, Oleksandr Teliha, Lviv Opera and National Theater Brno soloist, Roman Tsymbala. Bohdan himself, in 1988, a third year conservatory student, received his first serious award in life, winning the Mykola Lysenko Republican Contest of Young Opera Singers in Kyiv. After which he is invited to intern at the Lviv Opera. His internship went very nicely, and Bohdan entered as a soloist with the Lviv Opera Studio. With the Lviv Opera Studio he performs the principal role of Kozak Stepan in the premier of the April 1990 Opera Kupalo. This very opera was recorded in June 1990 by the Kyiv Radio for the Music Archives of Ukraine. He performed principle tenor parts in the operas Anna Snegina by Vladislav Agafonnikov (Sergei Esenin) and La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (Alfredo).

Simultaneously, Bohdan performed as a soloist for the choir Homin, with whom he enjoyed a wonderful American tour in November, 1990. In 1991, he was invited alongside Stephan Pyatnychko, to be soloists for Lviv Polytechnic Institute choir Credo, under the direction of Honored Art Worker of Ukraine, Vasyl Yatsyniak. With this Choir, invited to Italy by Bishop Sofron Mudry (Rector of the Ukrainian Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat), he performed in Rome. One Concert the choir performed especially for his Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the Pope’s Villa in Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome. His Holiness greatly enjoyed the performance. The final song was “Verkhovyno, Svitku Ty Nash”, which his Holiness joined in his native Polish. This was an unforgettable moment. Then, every artist was able to take a photo with his Holiness, for the memory. 

He began singing for the Ostap Stakhiv Folk Theater Group. This theater was one of the forerunners of Rifleman and Rebel songs during the Soviet Union. With this Folk Theater, Bohdan journeyed the tour path through Canada in November, 1993. And this continent maybe made an impression on the singer, because not long after, in 1995, at the invitation of his Aunt, Sofia Gural, Bohdan moved to America permanently. He believed in his music strengths, and decided to search for his path in the art of the opera, at the stages of the world opera theaters.

It wasn’t easy for Bohdan, like every newcomer, but he had the support of his family. Today, with gratitude, he speaks of Mr. Joseph Gural and wife Iris, who treated him like a son, and helped him however they could; his aunt Olga Liteplo and family; his friend, violinist Marian Pidvirniy; the Clergy, and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Volodymyr, who welcomed him as Cantor, and helped secure him a visa. Not long after, he was able to bring his family to the States, his wife Stefania and daughter Yuliya. He is boundlessly grateful for everyone who supported him. 

After arranging his family life, he returned again to song, in a wider scale. Till then, the singer generally performed celebrations, festivals, concerts. Not once, at the invitation of the choir Dumka, he performed as soloist at important concerts. The conductor of the choir, Maestro Vasyl Grechynskiy and Bohdan were tied by a longtime friendship — the both studied attended college and conservatory in Lviv. They created a nice duet with Lviv Opera Singer Anna Bachynska, in the ensemble Ukrainian Family, under the management of the National Union of Composers of Ukraine, conductor and composer Mrs. Oksana Lyhovyd, performing at Soyuzivka, Verkhovyna, Church Festivals St. George Ukrainian Festival in the East Village, the Church of Fair Christ Festival in Astoria, the Orthodox All Saints Church in the East Village, charity concert for people affected by flooding in Transcarpathia.

Though, not much time had passed from when Mr. Bohdan Sikora set foot on American soil as a permanent resident, but he had already realized a great deal of affairs. This, is due to his tireless nature and his pleasant attitude to others, with whom he had to meet or work. Mr. Sikora has the charm of a soft person, who you will rarely see in today’s severe, materialized world. And here he is today, in the bloom of his talent and success. “Bronx Opera” — the first stage of his New York opera dream, appreciated the talent of the Ukrainian Singer — newcomer who successfully sings his arias in English. This is truly a great achievement. How does he do it? His daughter helps him with pronunciation, while he studies persistently. Bronx Opera, created in 1967 by Artistic Director and head conductor Michael Spierman. Performances there are sung exclusively in English, with a full chorus and orchestra. The repertoire consists of three to four performances a year. One of these operas, as a condition, must be considered underperformed. A lot of singers, who’ve sang at the Bronx Opera, today sing at such renowned operas as the Metropolitan Opera or the City Opera in New York. In May of this year, our singer, Bohdan Sikora sang in four performances of Verdi’s Traviata, where he played the role of Gaston. When he completed his fourth performance, Michael Spierman proposed that the soloist extend his contract, and invited him to sing in W. A. Mozart’s opera Cossi Fan Tutte, over which the singer will begin rehearsal in October this year. [*substituted G. Puccini’s “La Boheme”]

Well, we’re proud of you Mr. Sikora. I believe that all reader will agree with us, because every achievement of the Ukrainian person in a foreign, or as some may say, alien land, is an achievement of all of ours — the Ukrainian diaspora — old-comers, newcomers, no different. We form a whole — Ukrainian diaspora. And every, personal drop of success, delights and raises us all. We wish you conquer the world stage of other Opera Theaters of New York! 

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Ukrainian Tenor Bohdan Sikora in the Bronx Opera

The 37th consecutive season of New York’s Bronx Opera has come to a close, where our compatriot sings — Lviv opera singer, tenor Bohdan Sikora. This season’s performances included:  Giuseppe Verdi’s Traviata, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul, Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. In each of these performances participated our Bohdan Sikora, and after the final performance of Puccini’s La Boheme, on the 21 of May at Hofstra University (Hempstead, Long Island), director and hear conducted of Bronx Opera, Michael Spierman offered Bohdan a contract for the next season, which begins in October 2005. In the last performance of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme, Bohdan shared the stage with known opera singers like, Sarah Long (Mimi), soloist of the Boston Opera, Alex Richardson (Rudolph), soloist of Santa Fe Opera, Robert Young Winethroop (Marcel), soloist of Arizona Opera. 

During the summer break, Bohdan Sikora will work on Wolfgan Amadeus Mozart’s Cossi Fan Tutte which will lead the next season for The Bronx Opera. He sincerely thanks God that his talent has been properly evaluated in America, and that he is able to work in his specialty, to which he has dedicated some of the best years of his life.

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