At approximately 6 AM of 29 June 2016, a world-known opera singer from France perished on the front line of the war in Donbas. Ukrainian-born Wassyl Slipak returned to defend his native country as a volunteer soldier of the Right Sector battalion after 19 years of a successful opera career in France. He died from a sniper bullet near Debaltseve in Donbas, defending Ukrainian positions from attacks of Russia’s hybrid army
“We were fending off a separatist attack with the help of artillery and heavy armor. Wassyl died from a sniper bullet, with his machine gun in his hands,” his commander told depo.ua.
Wassyl was a machine gunner. He left behind his parents and older brother. His commander didn’t know if he had children, a wife or girlfriend – Wassyl was in the brigade only for a week and a half and they didn’t have time to get to know each other better.
Wassyl started singing when he was a child, and it was his older brother Orest that enrolled him in the Dudaryky choir capella in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
In 1994, the 20-year-old student of the Lviv Conservatory received the Grand Prix at the international competition in France, and signed a contract with “Opera Bastille”in 1996. The French audience nicknamed him “Mephistopheles” for the way he sang the part of four devils from the opera “Tales of Hoffmann” by Offenbach.
Wassyl received the prize for the Best male performer at the international festival of opera singers in Armele in 2011 for his performance of the Aria of Toreador from the opera Carmen by Bizet.
Wassyl lived in France, made a wonderful career, but did not distance himself from his homeland. When Euromaidan protests started in 2013, he was unable to travel to Ukraine, as he signed a contract with the Opera, but he organized rallies to support Ukraine in France.
His voice gathered Ukrainians to a protest against France lifting sanctions against Russia in Paris on 8 June 2016:
Wassyl was proud of his first success as a pro-Ukrainian volunteer – a “Ford” that was purchased for the needs of the Right Sector battalion on the funds raised during one manifestation in Paris. But he thought it wasn’t enough. After living 19 years in France, he left his life of a European celebrity and returned to protect his homeland.
He chose the call name to “Mephistopheles” for himself, but for convenience, it was shortened to “Myth” – shouting “Mephistopheles” into the radio took too long.
Wassyl joined the Right Sector. From last summer, he changed several units, the latest one being DUK’s assault division. His last posts on his facebook page were about volunteer activities, as he continued being a volunteer that fundraised for Ukrainian soldiers. In his latest post, he was searching for 50 black berets. Who knows, for what. His facebook friends joked: we have furry ones. Or pink ones.
His brother Orest tells that Wassyl will be buried in Lviv, his hometown.
Watch this video of Wassyl at the frontline by Hromadske. At the end, he sings a song for his combat brothers while cleaning his machine gun.