Violetta Villas

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Violetta Villas
Violettavillas1967.jpg
Violetta Villas in 1967
Background information
Birth name Czesława Maria Cieślak
Also known as mlle. Villas; VV
Born (1938-06-10)June 10, 1938
Origin Liège, Belgium
Died December 5, 2011(2011-12-05) (aged 73)
Lewin Klodzki, Poland
Genres jazz, opera, operatic pop, revue, torch song, traditional pop
Occupation(s) singer, songwriter, composer, actress
Instruments trombone, piano, violin, vocals
Years active 1960–2011

Czesława Gospodarek (10 June 1938 – 5 December 2011), known by her stage name Violetta Villas, was a Belgian-born Polish and international cabaret star, singer, actress, composer and songwriter. Her voice was characterized as coloratura soprano. She could play the piano, violin, and trombone and had absolute pitch.[1] She has been nicknamed "the voice of the atomic age",[2] "the singing toast of the continent",[3] "a voice like French champagne",[4] "Polish Yma Sumac". Villas was the first star of the Casino de Paris at Dunes Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (1966–1971).[1]

Villas was known for her conspicuous, outstanding appearance and numerous number-one hits. During her career in show business Villas starred in six films, performed in numerous musical shows, and recorded almost three hundred songs in ten languages, including Polish, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Neapolitan, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese. She was an animal rights activist.

Villas was a very controversial person for her alcohol[5] and morphine addiction[5][6] and being a Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs informant[5][7][8] with a code name Gabriella.[5][9] Moreover she had a delusional disorder,[10] which has a bad influence on her contacts with her environment and family.[5]

In 2011, Villas received the Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.[11][12][13]

Biography[edit]

Polish singer Violetta Villas

Early life[edit]

Villas was born in Heusy, Liège province, the third of four children. She spent her childhood in Belgium. Her father Bolesław Cieślak (4 December 1907 – 9 May 1960) was a miner and bandmaster, and her mother Jane (26 January 1914 – 17 February 1985) was a housewife. In 1948 she came with her parents to Poland and settled in Lewin Kłodzki where she began studying music. She played the piano and violin in her youth.

In 1956 she began studying solo singing at the State Musical High School in Szczecin. She continued her artistic education in Wrocław with a professor Gisela Posh. In 1959 she began classical vocal lessons with a professor Eugenia Falkowska in Warsaw.

1960–1965: Early career[edit]

In 1960 Villas was given her debut on Polskie Radio by its director of music, Władysław Szpilman.[14] Her first broadcast songs were Gdy zakwitną czereśnie and Ja nie mogę tamtej drugiej znieść. She recorded her first album, "Rendez-vous with Violetta Villas" in 1962. She received her first noteworthy prize at the Sopot Festival in 1961 and 1962. In 1964, 1965 and 1966 she performed at National Festival of Polish Song in Opole.

In the early 1960s Villas toured many countries in Europe, including Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, also in United States, Canada and Israel.

Villas in Christian Dior crinoline

In 1964 at the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole she was approached by Bruno Coquatrix, who invited her to France. At the 3rd Festival International des Variétés et Music-Halls in Rennes, Villas received her Grand Prix International d'Interpretation (she sang including Ave Maria). In 1965 she performed at Fontaine Theatre (show Roue de la Chance, director André Chanu). In 1966, at a personal request of Bruno Cocquatrix, Villas appeared in the Grand Music Hall de Varsovie, revue program at Olympia. The premiere was 26 July 1966. Villas sang including Ave Maria no Morro and Hiroshima Mon Amour. In Paris she was approached by Frederic Apcar, who invited her to Las Vegas.

1966–1971: Las Vegas and Casino de Paris[edit]

In December 1966 Villas performed at the Casino de Paris at Dunes Hotel & Casino. In her first program she sang including "Under Paris Skies", "Granada", "O Sole Mio", "Strangers in the Night" and "Libiamo ne' lieti calici". Villas sang in duets with Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Barbra Streisand, Charles Aznavour, Sammy Davis, Jr., Eartha Kitt, Dean Martin.[1]

Her personal stylist was Patrick Valette, a Frenchman from fashion house Dior. She performed her show with a hundred-person French ballet. She lived in a villa with private swimming pool.[1] In late 60s Villas recorded twenty songs for an American Television and Capitol Records. In March 1968 began a screen test for MGM film studio, where she was later signed to a movie contract.

1971–1987: Isolation and great comeback[edit]

Villas was offered a lucrative eight-year contract with Paramount Pictures but turned it down because of her mother's illness which saw her to return to Poland.[1] Later in the 1970s Villas had to return to Poland to her dying mother. Authorities of the Communist regime confiscated her passport, and she was forced to stay in Poland for more than a decade. However, she was not completely banned from the media and was able to pursue her career locally. In 1985 she had her great comeback, just a few years after martial law ended. The performances were sold out even weeks beforehand. Authorities returned her passport, and she resumed her international career. She later toured the USA and Australia.

In 1987 she went to the tour, "Violetta" after the United States and Canada. The premiere was September 14 at Carnegie Hall, where she received a standing ovation. In New York her concert was sold out. Villas performed in Las Vegas, Denver, Miami, Texas, Montreal and Chicago.

Personal life[edit]

In 1954, when she was 16, Villas married lieutenant Gospodarek but they divorced just two years later in September 1956. Her parents had pressured her into the marriage but she did not truly love him.[15] She left her husband to study music in Szczecin. They had one child, Krzysztof Gospodarek.

Villas recital

In 1987 she met an American businessman and millionaire of Polish descent, Ted Kowalczyk, and married him on 6 January 1988 in Chicago. The wedding ceremony was held at a banquet room of the "Orbit" Restaurant, a fixture of Chicago's Polish Village. They divorced in December 1988. He gave many interviews in the media about their marriage, but she said on a TV show "I made an error, that I believed so fast."[16]

Death[edit]

Villas died on 5 December 2011 in Lewin Kłodzki at the age of 73.[17]

Voice characteristics[edit]

Villas was a soprano whose voice had an extraordinary register and a very wide range of vocal color.[18]

Theatre[edit]

Before Villas started her theatre career in Poland, she performed in international revue shows in France and United States. In 1978 she played at the Grand Theatre in Łódź in the musical show Kochajmy się. In the 1970s/80s Villas was a star of the Siren Theatre in Warsaw. Villas played several roles in her theatre career, including Lygia in Trzeci program (The third programme, 1978) and the main role in the revue Violetta (1986–1988). In 1986 she returned to theatre, performing in Violetta with an orchestra and ballet.[1]

In 1992, Villas played in the musical Hello, Dolly! at Cracow Operetta House. In the 1990s she performed at Warsaw Operetta House in her own programme, The Violetta Villas Show.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

  • 1962 Rendez-vous with Violetta Villas
  • 1966 Violetta Villas
  • 1967 Violetta Villas (reedition)
  • 1968 For you my darling
  • 1968 About Love...
  • 1977 There is no love without jealousy
  • 1985 Las Vegas
  • 1986 Violetta Villas (reedition)
  • 1992 The most beautiful Christmas carols
  • 1996 Daddy 2 guest star
  • 1997 Christmas carols
  • 1997 Villas sings Christmas carols
  • 2001 When Jesus Christus was born...
  • 2001 Violetta Villas (reedition)
  • 2001 There is no love without jealousy (reedition)
  • 2001 For you my darling (reedition)
  • 2003 Valentine hits
  • 2004 Christmas carols from heart
  • 2008 To comfort the heart and warmth the soul
  • 2009 The most beautiful Christmas carols (reedition)

Live[edit]

  • 1994 Dolly
  • 1994 I am what I am (reedition)
  • 1998 Dolly (reedition)
  • 2006 I am what I am (reedition)

Singles[edit]

  • 1961 I don't believe you
  • 1961 Such a frost
  • 1961 I don't make it
  • 1961 For you my darling
  • 1961 Red Marianna
  • 1961 Secret
  • 1962 Get married, Johny!
  • 1962 Cuckoo clock
  • 1962 It speak maracas
  • 1962 Look straight into my eyes
  • 1962 When Allah goes
  • 1962 Ali alo
  • 1963 Fan
  • 1964 To you, mother
  • 1964 Joseph
  • 1964 The love begins with a smile
  • 1964 There is a time for love
  • 1964 Is not
  • 1966 To you, mother
  • 1978 For mum
  • 1986 Mundial'86
  • 1987 The pine from my dream
  • 1987 Take me from Barcelona
  • 1987 Everywhere you go
  • 1987 The wild woman

Flexi discs[edit]

  • 1962 Do you like to dance?
  • 1964 There is a time for love
  • 1964 Forty chesnut-trees
  • 1964 Recalling Masuria
  • 1965 Mamma
  • 1965 I will travel to you
  • 1965 To you, mother
  • 1968 It's raining in Zakopane
  • 1970 I returned to you
  • 1972 There is no love without jealousy
  • 1974 To you, mother

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 1980 Old hits
  • 1987 The greates hits
  • 1992 For you my darling
  • 1992 The best of
  • 1995 Violetta Villas – gold hits
  • 1996 Gold hits
  • 1996 Only to you
  • 1997 I am what I am
  • 1998 Platinum collection
  • 2000 Gold hits
  • 2003 To you, mother
  • 2003 Magic memories
  • 2009 From the Polish Radio archive
  • 2010 40 Violetta Villas songs
  • and 46 Various Artists-type compilations

Filmography[edit]

Movie

  • 1969 How to commit marriage
  • 1969 Heaven with a gun
  • 1969 Paint your wagon
  • 1970 The woodpecker
  • 1983 Dream about Violetta
  • 1989 Violetta Villas

Television

  • 1963 Revue of the Polskie Nagrania
  • 1964 Dancing Joe
  • 1965 Roue de la chance
  • 1966 Professor Tutka's club
  • 1970 Violetta Villas sings
  • 1975 The wedding
  • 1977 Sentiments
  • 1978 Good evening, it's Łódź!
  • 1985 Summer Studio
  • 1985 Beautiful and excellent
  • 1988 Violetta
  • 1993 Violetta Villas show – live at Warsaw Operetta
  • 1995 Only to You
  • 1996 Concert on a barge
  • 1999 Violetta V. – live

Repertoire[edit]

1. Song festivals – Sopot, Opole, Knokke-Heist, Basel etc. (1961–1964)

  • Ave Maria no Morro
  • For You My Darling
  • Look Straight Into My Eyes
  • Si señor
  • The Time Will Come
  • To You, Mother

2 "Roue de la chance", Theatre Fontaine in Paris (1965)

  • Ave Maria no Morro
  • Look Straight Into my Eyes

3. "Grand music hall de Varsovie", Olympia in Paris (1966)

  • Ave Maria no Morro
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Look Straight Into my Eyes
  • Non C'est Rien

4. "Casino de Paris", Dunes in Las Vegas (1967–1969)

5. "Villas Revue", Congress Hall in Warsaw (1968)

  • Dark Eyes
  • Hello, Dolly!
  • L'amour Est Un Oiseau Rebelle
  • Libiamo ne' Lieti Calici
  • My Heart Belongs to Daddy
  • Strangers in the Night
  • This Is My Song

6. "Violetta", international concert tour started at Carnegie Hall in New York (1987–1988)

  • Arias from Carmen
  • Dark Eyes
  • Granada
  • Happiness (polish – Szczęście)
  • If you go away
  • Kiss me hotly (polish – Całuj gorąco)
  • Mechanical doll (polish – Mechaniczna lalka)
  • Strangers in the night
  • Summertime
  • Violetta

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Tygrysica z Magdalenki, Witold Filler (1993)
  2. ^ L'Humanité, 1966
  3. ^ "Dunes show will star toast of Europe, Violetta Villas", The Vista Press, 1967
  4. ^ Casino de Paris brochure
  5. ^ a b c d e Villas. Nic przecież nie mam do ukrycia – J. Danielewicz, I. Michalewicz; Villas' biography, ISBN 978-83-7799-068-1 (2011)
  6. ^ "Villas brała morfinę! (Villas took morphine!)". http://pudelek.pl/. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  7. ^ Institute of National Remembrance (IPN BU 1386/486988)
  8. ^ "Akta "Gabrielli" – kontakty Villas z SB (Gabriella's files – contacts Villas with SB)". http://ksiazki.wp.pl/. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  9. ^ Institute of National Remembrance (IPN BU 00170/618)
  10. ^ "Rodzina Villas walczy o spadek (Villas' family fights for inheritance)". http://tvp.pl/. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  11. ^ Violetta Villas to take final bow
  12. ^ Ostatni koncert Violetty Villas; tvn24.pl
  13. ^ Violetta Villas otrzymała srebrną Glorię Artis; wprost.pl
  14. ^ http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/12/the-pianists-protegee-dies-on-his-100th-birthday.html
  15. ^ Wideoteka Dorosłego Człowieka, Polish talk-show, 2004
  16. ^ Ibisekcja, polish talk show, 1999
  17. ^ Scislowska, Monika (7 December 2011). "Coloratura soprano, cabaret star Violetta Villas dies at 73". waschingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  18. ^ Na każdy temat – Polish television programme, 1996

External links[edit]