(Kolassanti) Irma Kolasi

She was born in Athens on 28/5/1918 to a family of musicians. She studied piano under Theseus Pindios and voice - at Dimitris Mitropoulos’ suggestion - under Maggie Karatzas at the Greek Conservatory. She graduated in 1938 with first prize. She continued her studies at the National Academy of St Cecilia Rome under Alfredo Casella. Upon the outbreak of WWII she returned to Greece, and sang at the newly established GNO (1940-43), while she worked as voice teacher with the National Conservatory of Athens (1940-1949). In 1948 she moved to Paris, where she made her French debut in a concert of the French Radio. In the 1950s she emerged as a major performer of contemporary music, particularly of French composers (Debussy, Ravel, “Group Les Six”, Chausson, etc.), inspiring several composers to write especially for her. She collaborated with renowned 20th century composers, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Auric, etc. She sang under the direction of famous conductors (Rosbaud, Monteux, Münch, Krips, Guilini, van Beinum, etc.) and gave recitals along with celebrated accompaniment singers (Poulenc, Boulanger), etc.). She appeared in the operas Oedipus Rex (Stravinsky), The fiery angel (Prokofiev), The damnation of Faust [La damnation de Faust], Wozzeck, Werther, etc. She appeared in several countries, including England, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and USA, as well as international festivals, and won awards and accolades. She recorded works by Ravel, Debussy, Fauré, etc. (Decca, Chant du Monde, Solstice). She taught at the Schola Cantorum in Paris and was decorated by the French government. In the GNO, during the period 1940-1943, she sang roles in eight productions and/or revivals of seven lyrical operas: Suzuki [Madame Butterfly/Madama Butterfly], Berta [The Barber of Seville/Il barbiere di Siviglia], Peasant woman, Gypsy woman [The master builder/O protomastoras], Peronella [Boccaccio], Maid [Elektra] (Odeon of Herodes Atticus, 1942), Mirabella [The gypsy baron/Der zigeunerbaron] and Agricola Barbaruccio [A night in Venice/Eine nacht in Venedig]. She died in Paris on 27/3/2012.