LNOBT Mourns the Passing of the Legendary Lithuanian Tenor Virgilijus Noreika (22.09.1935 – 03.03.2018)


In the early morning of 3 March the world of opera suffered a great loss – the legendary Lithuanian tenor Virgilijus Noreika passed away at the age of 82. It is impossible to overestimate his contributions to cultural life – his artistic, creative and pedagogical activities left a deep trace not only in Lithuania, but also the entire world.

Virgilijus Noreika was born in 1935, Šiauliai (Lithuania). In 1958 he graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where he studied solo singing under Prof. Kipras Petrauskas. In 1965 – 1966 he was the first in post-war Lithuania to go for internship at La Scala theatre in Milan where he prepared six roles in operas. He performed the role of Pinkerton (G. Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly; supervised by G. Bara). Later the singer appeared on the stage of La Scala several more times together with the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre company that was on tour in Milan. Since 1957 Noreika has been a soloist with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 1976 – 1991 he was also the general manager of the LNOBT. In 1993 – 94 he taught at the Academy of Latin American Singing in Karakas (Venezuela).

Virgilijus Noreika has performed on many stages of the world: Moscow Bolshoi Theatre (over 50 times), Berlin State Opera, Paris Grand Opera, Buenos Aires Teatro Colon, in Stockholm, Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest, Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava, Kiev, Minsk, Tallinn and Riga, Chicago Lithuanian Opera and other stages. The singer has prepared over 50 roles. Next to his parts in operas written by Lithuanian composers (Kazimieras Viktoras Banaitis, Giedrius Kuprevičius, Vytautas Klova, Balys Dvarionas and Vytautas Laurušas), he has sung the principal roles in operas by the most prominent composers: Don Jose (G. Bizet’s “Carmen”), Werther (J. Massenet’s “Werther”), Edgardo, Nemorino (G. Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”, “L’elisir d’amore”), Lensky (P. Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”), Otello, Alfredo, Duke (G. Verdi’s “Otello”, “La TRAVIATA”, “Rigoletto”), Cavaradossi, Johnson, Rodolfo (G. Puccini’s “Tosca”, “MANON Lescaut”, “La Boheme”), Vladimir (A. Borodin’s “Prince Igor”), Mozart (N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart and Salieri”) and others.

Virgilijus Noreika also performed over 700 solo concerts. He sang the tenor parts in G. Verdi’s “Requiem”, L. van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, A. Arutunian’s cantatas and other pieces. He collaborated with Lithuanian and foreign orchestras, toured Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Russia, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, USA, Canada, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, Japan and other countries.

In 1976 Prof. Virgilijus Noreika began teaching at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. In 2003 he became the artistic director and teacher of the Opera Studio at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 1997 he began his collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Music a visiting professor at the Estonian Academy of Music; In 1995 – 96 he taught singing at the Estonia Theatre in Tallinn. Noreika was constantly invited to hold master classes. Students of Prof. Virgilijus Noreika sing on stages of many theatres of Europe. Among the most prominent students are Sergejus Larinas, Edgaras Montvidas, Kristian Benedikt, Laimonas Pautienius, Eugenijus Chrebtovas, Merūnas Vitulskis, Audrius Rubežius, Algirdas Janutas, Arvydas Markauskas, Liudas Norvaišas, Mindaugas Žemaitis, Ignas Misiūra-Tumanovas, Dainius Puišys, Gediminas Tiškevičius.

Virgilijus Noreika was to be a member of juries at international and national solo singing competitions: J. Vytolis (Latvia, 1966), S. Moniuszka (Poland, 1997), M. Glinka (Russia, 1996), B. Grincevičiūtė (Lithuania, 1996, 2001) and many others.

Virgilijus Noreika has recorded his singing together with Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, Lithuanian National Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber and other orchestras. He has recorded two CDs together with Violeta Urmana.

The talent of Virgilijus Noreika was evaluated with many national and international prizes. He was awarded National Prizes in 1960 and 1970; in 1995 he was awarded the Fourth Class Order of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas. In 1995 Noreika was awarded the First Class Order of the Polar Star (Sweden). Kipras Prize awarded by the Society of Lithuanian Opera Friends (1997); Golden Disc Award from the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union (2001). In 2013 V. Noreika was bestowed the title of Soloist Emeritus by the LNOBT.

Virgilijus Noreika’s exceptional voice, preserved in numerous recording, shall remain with us forever, painfully reminding us of a Human Being who enriched Lithuanian operatic history beyond any measure. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maestro's family and friends, as well as all those who were touched by his talent, sincerity and kindness.