“Myth” and “Hero of Ukraine”

On February 24, 2022, the world was jolted awake as Russia launched its full-scale invasion into Ukraine. But it’s important to remember that this invasion was not the start of the war; rather, it was a culmination of years of relentless Russian aggression that began in 2014. Russia ignited the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine in that year, and its devastating consequences had already claimed the lives of over 14,000 people prior to the 2022 invasion. Among the courageous Ukrainian freedom fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their homeland was Wassyl Slipak, a symbol of unwavering bravery and selflessness. As we solemnly commemorate the anniversary of his passing, 6 years today, it serves as a poignant reminder that Slipak’s story is but one thread woven into the broader tapestry of Ukrainian heroism, shaped by the ongoing war that long predates the full-scale invasion of 2022.

A Voice That Captivated the World

In the hearts of Ukrainians worldwide, today is a day of solemn remembrance and reflection. It is a day that marks the anniversary of the untimely passing of a remarkable individual whose life was filled with extraordinary talent, unwavering dedication, and profound sacrifice. Join us as we embark on a journey to honor the legacy of Wassyl Slipak, a name that resonates with heroism and selflessness.

Imagine a voice that effortlessly traverses multiple ranges, captivating audiences with its beauty and depth. Wassyl Slipak, a legendary singer and soloist of the Paris Opera, possessed such a gift. His vocal prowess was unparalleled, spanning from the depths of bass-baritone to the soaring heights of mezzo-soprano. His performances on esteemed theater stages all over the world left spectators in awe, forever etching his name into the annals of music history.

From Opera to Battlefield: A Hero Emerges

But there comes a pivotal moment when destiny calls upon even the most celebrated among us to make a choice. For Slipak, that moment arrived when his beloved homeland, Ukraine, faced a grave threat. In a profound display of patriotism and selflessness, he made the extraordinary decision to leave behind the grandeur of the opera and embrace a new stage—one fraught with danger and sacrifice.

A Journey of Resilience and Adaptation

The transition from the opulent opera houses to the harsh realities of the battlefield was not without its challenges. How does one adapt from a life of artistic expression to the rigors of military service? Slipak, who had never served before and possessed no formal military training, tackled this adversity head-on. In interviews, he humbly acknowledged his rapid adaptation, stating that he learned everything “on the spot.” His tenacity, resilience, and ability to acclimate quickly to the harsh conditions showcased his unwavering commitment to defending his homeland.

Let me tell you one story. The story of a person for whom “being heard” has become the meaning of life. For this man had a divine voice. He was called one of the best baritones and countertenors in the world. His voice was heard at Carnegie Hall in New York, Notre Dame Cathedral, Covent Garden in London and Grand Opera in Paris. Each of you could have personally heard his incredible singing. But unfortunately, there is one thing that will not allow you to do so. I’ll show you. It looks like this. 12.7 millimeters that not only stopped his career, but also stopped his life. It costs 10 dollars. And, unfortunately, today on our planet it is the value of human life.

There are thousands of such stories, millions of such bullets. Welcome to the XXI century. A century of opportunities. Where instead of “being heard” you have an opportunity to be killed.

The name of the man I’ve told you about was Wassyl Slipak. He was a Ukrainian, a soloist of the Paris National Opera who was killed in Donbas defending Ukraine from the Russian aggression.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

at the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, September 29, 2019

A Life of Service and Compassion

Beyond his military duties, Wassyl Slipak exemplified the spirit of compassion and service. Co-founding the “Ukrainian Brotherhood,” a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the front lines and the families of fallen heroes, he tirelessly worked to uplift and assist his fellow soldiers. In France, where Slipak resided, he became an integral part of the Ukrainian community, leaving an enduring legacy of empathy and selflessness. Former Ukrainian President Petro Proshenko awarded post posthumously the title of “Hero of Ukraine” to Slipak.

In 2018, Wassyl Slipaks’ remarkable and tragic story is documented in the film, “MYTH”, directed by Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasniy and released in 2018.  Follow this links to see a video that shares comments from Wassy’ls brother.

Today, as we reflect upon the anniversary of Wassyl Slipak’s untimely passing, we honor his legacy as a singer, soldier, and humanitarian. From the heights of operatic achievement to the depths of the battlefield, Slipak’s life serves as a testament to the indomitable human spirit. His unwavering commitment to defending Ukraine and his remarkable acts of compassion continue to inspire generations. Let us remember and celebrate the life of Wassyl Slipak, a fallen hero whose sacrifice will never be forgotten.


Sources & Further Reading:

“Myth” Offers a Nuanced Portrayal of Singer Wassyl Slipak in War-Torn Ukraine. (n.d.). The Odessa Review. Retrieved from https://odessareview.com/myth-offers-nuanced-portrayal-singer-wassyl-slipak-war-ukraine/

Trofimov, Y. (2016, July 1). Famous Ukrainian Opera Singer Vasyl Slipak Killed by Sniper in Eastern Ukraine. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/01/famous-ukrainian-opera-singer-vasyl-slipak-killed-by-sniper-in-eastern-ukraine/

Vasyl Slipak. (n.d.). Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. Retrieved from https://uacrisis.org/en/52802-vasyl-slipak


File:Wassyl Slipak 24 août 2014.jpg” by Syrdon is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. The original image has been gently edited to include the Ukrainian flag in the background. There have been no edits to the portrait of Wassyl Slipak.

Image of President Zelenksyy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International –  www.president.gov.ua