Espreso. Global

Eighth anniversary of opera singer-warrior Vasyl Slipak's death: quotes from prominent Lviv native

29 June, 2024 Saturday

Today, June 29, marks eight years since the renowned Ukrainian opera singer Vasyl Slipak was killed by a Russian sniper in eastern Ukraine


Vasyl Slipak became a symbol of national pride, courage and self-sacrifice. Espreso tells the story of Lviv-born Vasyl Slipak's life and military career.

Slipak's life and career

                                                                                                  Photo: The spiritual greatness of Lviv

Vasyl Slipak was born on December 20, 1974 in Lviv. From an early age, he showed remarkable musical talent. He had a rare voice - a countertenor (the highest of male opera voices). Although neither his father nor mother had any musical talent in the family, the singing talent was passed down from his grandfather, in whose honor his parents named their son. In 1983, when he was 9 years old, his older brother Orest took him to the Dudaryk Choir in Lviv, where Vasyl sang for more than 10 years.

Vasyl Slipak performed with the Dudaryk Choir in the most prestigious concert halls of Ukraine and the world. He performed German and French songs, Italian arias in the original language, as he was fluent in many foreign languages.

"I never thought I would become a singer. Everything happened somehow by chance. It must have been programmed from birth. God gave me a voice. And now I have to glorify the Lord with that voice. At the same time, I have had faith since childhood. The connection I feel with God cannot be explained in words. But without it, the art that a performer delivers seems incomplete. That is why we must constantly strive for this connection, its continuity. I think faith is the foundation on which everything else is built. And if I have a responsible performance, I pray before I go on stage," Vasyl Slipak recalled in an interview.

In 1992, young Vasyl Slipak became a student at the Mykola Lysenko Lviv Higher State Music Institute (now the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy). He took an active part in student concerts and already then stood out as a talented and promising performer. While studying at the institute, he continued his concert activities and gained fame for his unique voice. He performed both in Ukraine and abroad.

His career grew rapidly, and he quickly became known on the international stage, performing in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, and other countries. Since 1997, Slipak has worked at the Paris Opera, where he has been recognized for his performances in numerous operas. In France, Vasyl Slipak's vocal skills have been highly praised by the public. In addition, he had extensive solo tours in Europe.

Patriotism and social activities

                                                                                                                                   Photo: Radio Liberty

In the summers of 1993 and 1994, Vasyl and his brother helped organize youth spiritual shelters together with a team from the International Larsh Federation in Canada. For some time Vasyl sang in the choir of the Church of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha, where he was a parishioner.

In 2004, he was an active participant in the Orange Revolution.

During the Revolution of Dignity he had a contract at the Paris Opera, so he could not come to Kyiv. But with the beginning of the Euromaidan, he led the volunteer movement and coordinated public events in France aimed at supporting Ukraine. The singer became an active participant in everything that was happening in the diaspora, including supporting the Paris Euromaidan, protests near the Russian embassy, and many other initiatives.

At the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine, Vasyl Slipak was also one of those who organized the popular anti-Putin marches, "Stop Putin War in Ukraine!", which gathered tens of thousands of people outside European institutions.

Interestingly, the singer lived in Paris for 19 years. During this time, he was offered French citizenship twice, and twice he refused, wanting to be a Ukrainian citizen.

Defending Ukraine and death by sniper's bullet

                                                                                                                                  Photo: radiosvoboda

In 2015, Vasyl decided to take part in the fighting and joined the Right Sector volunteer battalion under the pseudonym "Myth", which comes from his favorite aria of Mephistopheles from the opera Faust.

"As long as the war in the East continues, art will wait. How did an opera singer go to war? And who said that Donbass is not glamorous? Our people love to heroize. I don't see anything wrong with changing a comfortable bed for a dugout. ... I have to be there, at war. Because it is there, in the East, at the front, that Ukrainian history is being written," Slipak recalled in an interview.

He fought in Pisky near the Donetsk airport. He took part in the battles for Avdiivka as part of the 1st separate assault company of the 7th separate battalion of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. He returned from there wounded.

Vasyl did not plan to fully commit to the war, he wanted to support his comrades-in-arms whom he met at the front. It was important for him to be where he was needed: on stage and in the war.

"As a man, I can be at war, and as an artist, I can do the best I can to promote Ukraine in France," said Slipak.

He went to the front for the second time in September 2015, to the village of Vodiane near Mariupol, on the contact line.  In October, he returned to Paris.

In the summer of June 18, 2016, he went to Donbas for the third time to deliver the collected aid to the volunteer defenders and planned to stay there for six months. However, on June 29, 2016, while performing a combat mission as a machine gunner with the 1st Assault Company of the Right Sector Volunteer Ukrainian Corps, he was killed in action at about 6:00 a.m. by a 12.7 mm enemy bullet fired by a sniper with a large-caliber rifle.

Working as a machine gunner, Vasyl Slipak saved his comrades at the cost of his own life. At that time, Ukrainian defenders repelled an attack by Russian forces on the village of Luhanske (Bakhmut district, Donetsk region) from the city of Debaltseve and launched a counteroffensive, pushing the enemy from two fortified positions on the heights near the village of Lohvynove.

His death was a great loss for Ukraine and the international community. The memory of Vasyl Slipak has been honored on many levels. Numerous memorial events, concerts, films, and books have been dedicated to him. His heroism and dedication have become an inspiration to many people.

Vasyl Slipak quotes

Vasyl Slipak remains a symbol of courage, patriotism, and high art. His life and heroic death are a reminder of the importance of the struggle for freedom and independence.

We also offer you to read some famous quotes by the outstanding Ukrainian warrior artist Vasyl Slipak:

  • "All the best moments of my life are spent in my homeland, and I think many Ukrainians should feel the uniqueness of this historical moment."
  • "It is so little and so much to love your land."

  • "There are people of interest and people of principles. There is a gap between them. The former will never understand the latter and vice versa."

  • "We need to stay positive and believe in our strength. We have it. Our European friends are amazed with it. We have succeeded and we will succeed."

  • "It's a weird situation when half of the country lives in war, and the other half is abstracted from it."

  • "We are a very peaceful nation. But we know how to defend ourselves. We have a genetic sense of justice and our country and land."

  • "All the blood that is being shed for Ukraine today should not stop us or plunge us into depression. It should give an impetus for further struggle."

  • "Victory will come for sure! On one condition: when each of us does everything necessary for this, from the smallest to the largest, and in everything! Imagine all the Ukrainians in the world thinking and acting at the same time? This is a bomb that nothing in the world can resist!"

  • "Many people are losing their nerves, but you have to hold on. I am an opera singer, and this is the work of nerves. There is always stress when you go on stage, you have to control yourself. It helps in war as well."

  • "Well, I will say to my descendants - we are here for you and that's it. You will live in Ukraine we dream of and which we are now reclaiming!"

As part of the international marathon in memory of the opera singer and warrior Vasyl Slipak, 5 concerts and an opera production are taking place in Lviv from June 28 to July 5. The program of events is available here.
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