A voi tutti, salute!
Enzo here, with his weekly "blast-from-the-past" inquiry. This week's topic
is the dramatic soprano Radmila Bakocevic, sometimes referred to as Radmila
Vasovic-Bakocevic. She was born on January 6, 1933 and is a native of Guca in
the former republic of Yugoslavia. Bakocevic studied voice with Nikola Cvejic
at the Belgrade Academy of Music; additional studies followed at the School of
the Teatro alla Scala. She made her 1955 stage debut with the Belgrade Opera
as Mimi in La Boheme.
Bakocevic won many awards throughout her career, including Second Prize at the
1958 Belgrade International Competition of Young Artists, the 1962 Grand Prix
Geneva, the 1964 Grand Prix Liege and the 1972-73 Targa d'oro Brescia.
Bakocevic made her San Francisco Opera debut on October 15, 1968 as the
Trovatore Leonora in a new production of the Verdi opera directed by Paul
Hager and designed by Wolfram Skalicki. Her colleagues on that occasion
included Robert Ilosfalvy as Manrico, Margarita Lilova as Azucena, Victor
Braun as Di Luna and Ara Berberian as Ferrando. The conductor was Giuseppe
In his book on the history of the San Francisco Opera, Arthur Bloomfield
described Bakocevic as "a slim Yugoslavian soprano to whom looking noble came
easily. And she clutched the tenor (trumpety Ilosfalvy) as if she meant it.
Her voice turned out to be a finespun spinto, as light-timbred an instrument
as one ever hears in the role of Leonora--she almost seemed a Gilda--but of a
character which made a great deal of sense considering all the passages
calling for a fragile maiden's floating head tone. Some explosive notes
limited her success, but in sum she satisfied."
Bakocevic made her Metropolitan Opera debut on April 2, 1968 as Cio-Cio-San in
Madama Butterfly. Her colleagues on that occasion included George Shirley as
Pinkerton, Theodor Uppman as Sharpless and Nedda Casei as Suzuki. The
conductor was Lamberto Gardelli. She returned the following season as Mimi
and Micaela in Carmen. Bakocevic also sang the Trovatore Leonora and
Marguerite in Faust on the 1968-69 Met spring tour.
Bakocevic made her La Scala debut on December 31, 1972 in the title role of
Bellini's Norma. Her colleagues on that occasion included Fiorenza Cossotto
as Adalgisa, Gianni Raimondi as Pollione and Ivo Vinco as Oroveso. The
conductor was Gianandrea Gavazzeni. She returned the following season for
several performances of the title role in Puccini's Tosca, with Placido
Domingo and Vladimir Atlantov sharing the role of Cavaradossi and Mario Zanasi
In addition to the houses mentioned above, Bakocevic appeared with the opera
companies of Buenos Aires, Vienna, Sofia, Copenhagen, Bordeaux, Paris, Athens,
Berlin, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Budapest, Florence, Genoa,
Naples, Palermo, Parma, Rome, Trieste, Turin, Venice, Mexico City, Warsaw,
Lisbon, Bucharest, Barcelona, Geneva, London, Kiev, Leningrad, Moscow,
Philadelphia and Dubrovnik.
Her repertoire included the title role in Beatrice di Tenda, Jaroslavna in
Prince Igor, Adriana Lecouvreur, the Roberto Devereux Elisabetta, Antonida in
A Life for the Tsar, Poppea, Cherubino, Giulietta in Les Contes d'Hoffmann,
Pauline in The Gambler, Minnie, Manon Lescaut, Olga in The Maid of Pskov,
Marie in The Bartered Bride, Mlada in Dalibor, the title role in R. Strauss'
Salome, Tatiana, Iolanthe, Lisa in Pique Dame, Aida, the Ballo Amelia,
Elisabetta di Valois, the Ernani Elvira, the Forza Leonora, the Boccanegra
Amelia, Violetta and Elisabeth in Tannhauser. What an incredibly diverse
collection of roles! One can only wonder if Bakocevic's voice was suitable to
every assignment in her wide-ranging repertoire.
I have only been able to locate one commercial recording made by Bakocevic.
She sings the role of Natasha in a 1958 performance of War and Peace on the M-
G-M label, the first studio recording of the Prokofiev opera. In the
Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera, Peter G. Davis wrote: "Vasovic-
Bakocevic's poignant Natasha provides a few moments of pleasure (she sang
briefly at the Met in the late 1960s), but the other soloists are uniformly
undistinguished." As far as I know, this recording has not been reissued on
Well, that's all I could find on Bakocevic. What does the Opera-L community
think of her? Did anyone see her perform? Anyone know her current
whereabouts, activities? All opinions, both positive and negative, are
welcome. Memories of in-house experiences are especially encouraged.
My thanks to all in advance. Have a great weekend, everyone!