Tenor Paul Asciak, the man credited with having started tenor Joseph Calleja on his singing career, has passed away.
"His is a death that I won't really accept or register for a long time," Mr Calleja said on facebook. "His trumpet like voice is legendary but it is his gentlemanly demeanour and caring tuition and mentoring that I shall miss most"
Born 92 years ago, Mr Asciak forged his initial career under the direction of Mgr Carlo Diacono.
He made his operatic debut as Turiddu in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana at the Radio City Opera House in Malta in 1946 and then continued his studies in Rome, performing at the Teatro dell'Opera.
In 1951 he won the Concorso per Giovani Cantanti Lirici together with, among others, Franco Corelli and Anita Cerquetti. He was granted a bursary for voice and histrionic training under the guidance of Mro Luigi Ricci and Riccardo Picozzi at the Teatro dell'Opera, Rome. In the same theatre's Spoleto production of Aida in 1951, Anita Cerquetti singing the title role, Asciak sang the part of Radames.
He was part of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Company from 1952 to 1954 and guest artist up to 1958.
His guest appearances in Malta at the Radio City Opera House, the Orpheum Theatre, and the Argotti Gardens summer productions were eagerly looked forward to and received much critical acclaim.
Asciak performed in the company of renowned singers like Maria Callas, Dame Joan Sutherland, Anita Cerquetti, Dame Joan Hammond, Amy Shuard, Ebe Stignani, Giulietta Simionato, Margreta Elkins, Anselmo Colzani, Carlo Tagliabue, Benvenuto Franci, Piero Cappuccilli, Peter Glossop, Sir Geraint Evans, Giulio Neri, Giacomo Vaghi, Ludwig Suthaus, Hans Braun and conductors like Anton Guadagno, Ottavio Ziino, Vittorio Gui, Peter Gellhorn, John Pritchard, Eric Kleiber, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Charles Groves and others.
He retired from the stage in May 1961.
In an interview to Times of Malta two years ago, he said: "I don't wish to leave this world. I'm in no hurry to leave. I just don't want to fall ill and become dependent on people."
Culture Minister OwenBonnici said Paul Asciak was unique, professional, humble, hardworking and excellent teacher. He will never be forgotten.
PN deputy leader Mario de Marco said Malta has lost one of its all time best opera singers.