Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Feb 3, 2015

Gershon Sirota (Sirotini) (Tenor) (Podolia 1874 - Warsaw 1943)

Gerson Sirota was born in 1874 in Odessa and first sang in synagogues there. However, in 1900 he was named Chief Cantor of Vilna, a position later to be held by a number of other famous cantors, including Mordechai Hershman. It was here that Sirota reached great prominence, performing frequently before the Russian nobility. In 1908, Sirota was called as Chief Cantor of the Great Synagogue in Warsaw. With a widespread reputation on an international scale, primarily because of the wide distribution of his recordings which he had begun in 1903, he began a series of concert tours of America. He first toured cross country in 1912, appearing in most of the major synagogues as well as concert halls. Sirota's international concert tours continued on an undiminished scale between the wars. He returned to the United States again in 1922 and on a number of other occasions, culminating in a 1938 tour. So frequent were Sirota's  excursions abroad that the synagogue officials in Warsaw decided to replace him. When he returned after officiating in New York on the High Holidays of 1927, he found that a successor had been found for his position, the young Moshe Kusevitsky. Sirota had no trouble finding another position in Warsaw, and in 1934 he was honored by Warsaw Jewry for his thirty years of service to the community at a special concert held at Warsaw's Hippodrome Theater. Tragically, Sirota was not spared the fate dealt to the Jews with the advent of Nazism. Returning to Warsaw after a trip abroad in 1938, he was trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto. His four sons and four daughters and their families are believed to have died during the shelling of the city. Sirota is believed to have perished on the concluding day of Passover, 1943. There is little question that Sirota possessed one of the greatest voices of his time. A true dramatic tenor, with both great range and flexibility, as well as a beautiful quality, Sirota might well have become an outstanding operatic singer, but for religious reasons he chose to remain a cantor. Caruso, having heard him sing, was quoted as stating: "Thank God he has chosen to employ his heavenly gift in a different field and I do not have to compete with such a formidable challenger in opera." Early in his recording career, Sirota made several operatic recordings under the name Sirotini so as not to divulge his true identity, but later excursions into opera were all sung under his real name.

Chronology of some appearances

1912 America Tour
1927 New York Concert


Adonaj, adonaj 18225
Berausch haschono jikusewun 18226

Adono moloch J.4-B  z 480
Celeste Aida 5017 L.053
Halbein chatoeinu  J.1-A  z 476
Ki-chol peh    J.2-B  z 483
Korutz m’chomer J.2-A  z 478
Ovinu molkeinu J.1-B  z 481
Sim sholom J.3-A z 484
V’chulom m’kablim aleihem J.4-A  z 479
Y’hi rotzon...hachodesh hazeh  J.3-B  z 482

Ato niglaise unpublished TI 127
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Kveidei molei oilom 103X (A53X)

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Eiz chajim 29061
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Waschomru 29056
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Whosser soton 29052
Zadik katomor 29051

Broisch Haschonu ikuseiwin 1-75603
Hayom Haras Oylom 1-75604
Kewakoras Roje sdroi 1-75598
U. Nsane Toikef 1-75605
Weshomru 1-75612  4105-o
Zadik katomer 1-75599  4092-o

Hamm’chadesh btuobh 654 T-2383  H1230ab
T’sur Yisroel 654 T-2384  H1231ab

Havdallah (God is my salvation) E 9547 WAX 3693

Kodosh atoh F.2815 B GB 3595-1DJP
Veseorev lephonecho F.2815 A  GB 3594-2CJP

Kol nidrei 2-75503 142-p
Odom yesodoh meophor 2-75504 143-p

Mimkaumau hu jifen 4-102417 410z
Rzei 11585 1683z
Whosser soton 11573  1691z

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