Professor Andreas Poulimenos, aka my dad

I like to think I had a conventional childhood, but sometimes when I say things like “yeah, I went to a German school for a year when my dad was singing in the opera house” or after a concert “their career isn’t going to last long if they don’t work on vocal technique to quit hurting themselves” that I get a few raised eyebrows.

Source: Image from 1989 MOT production of The Marriage of Figaro. Performers : Poulimenos, Andreas (Singer) ; Valente, Benita (Singer)

My dad grew up in Boston, number 3 of 4 children living off a cobbler’s salary. Their shoes were always shined at church, but were often 1-2 sizes too small. He sang in the Greek Orthodox Church choir and eventually soloed as their cantor. He decided to study music professionally and become an opera singer. He worked as a short order cook to supplement his scholarship and eventually finished his Bachelors and Masters of Music at the Boston Conservatory of Music. Around that time he won the Metropolitan Opera auditions and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Rome, Italy.

When he returned he tried to finish his Doctorate at Michigan State University and taught as a masters grad there for 2 years, but a job opportunity opened up at Bowling Green State University and he decided to go there rather than finish. In retrospect, it was a very good decision. He never became “Doctor P”, but he never needed to.

When he was younger he was known for his Marcello and Scarpia.

Source: Image from 1980 MOT production of Don Giovanni. Performers : Brown, Perry (Singer) ; Charbonneau, Pierre (Singer) ; Poulimenos, Andreas (Singer)

As he got older, he started to do more Sharpless in Madame Butterfly.

He stayed for 33 years at BGSU as the resident baritone, teaching voice to opera students and other music majors. He taught Italian diction for singers then, too, before retiring from BGSU and moving on to Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. He’s now 17 years into his stay at IU and only just now, after 50+ years of teaching opera at the university level, retiring in June 2019.

He gave a performance this past weekend as part of a faculty recital, which was quite the feat getting up on stage after having hip surgery at the end of July and eye surgery a few weeks ago.

I am always amazed by the things his students are doing from both universities. They’re in opera houses around the world, teaching at esteemed universities themselves, releasing videos that go viral, winning awards, appearing on television and movies, and just making me proud I can say “My dad taught them.”

Published by Andrea Lee Bishop

Andrea (pronounced On-dree-ah) leads Automattic's Support Leads and works in hiring. She's a fixer, traveler, mom, math geek, aspiring-polyglot, musician, and coffee lover.

9 thoughts on “Professor Andreas Poulimenos, aka my dad

  1. I was one who studied under your Dad at BGSU. I soon found out I wasn’t an Opera singer but it was ingrained in me to focus on “resonating so the last row could understand my words”. To this day I still ask people in the back row of Church whether they can understand my words…because of your Dad.

  2. I studied with your Dad at Bowling Green, He was one of the most giving human beings I ever encountered! I have some of his stuff up on YouTube. Be well. Matt Pozdol

  3. I studied with your dad at BGSU. I went to BG to become an elementary music teacher with piano as my major. After a year, Mrs. Cobb, my piano teacher told me ‘I think you would do better as a voice major”. I took the hint and auditioned for voice and your dad took me on! I wasn’t a performance major, but he accepted me into his studio because he liked my high g. ?? From there he changed my entire voice.
    I fell in love with opera because of him. I wanted to audition for an opera chorus, but after I graduated, I got a teaching job and have been in schools for 36 years. My choirs are really good, and the credit goes to Mr. P. because he made me understand the voice. I can demonstrate what a proper tone should sound like and the students respect my ability.
    And to be really honest, the man was gorgeous! He looked just like Hal Linden!
    I think of him often and how lucky I was that he chose me, a little education major, and transformed my life!!!

    Stacy McDonald

    1. Amazing! I had piano lessons with Dr. Cobb, too.

      My dad loved keeping vocal ed students in his studio who practiced and showed up prepared and open to learn. Colleagues would tell him to drop someone in favor of someone else and he wouldn’t. “I have no reason to, they’re a great student.”

      What school system are you teaching at?

      1. I can’t believe you remembered the spider! I think we sang a bunch of high notes, as well! I taught in the states for 3 years and then moved over seas and taught music in international schools for 24 years. Fabulous experience. Moved to Florida 10 years ago and am teaching at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts.
        Testament to your dad, that I randomly thought of him, looked him up and there was your post!

      2. Oh wow! My mom’s sister Lynn Martindale is over your way. She is an opera singer/voice teacher too, but teaches musical theater kids these days. And Wallace DePue Jr runs Palm Strings out of Fort Meyers.

      3. My students are always looking for voice teachers. My teaching job is overwhelming so I have no time to give lessons. When I get the chance, I will contact Lynn and see what her rates are, if she takes middle school students etc. I will also enquire about Wallace. So cool these people are around here. Thanks for letting me know.

  4. Oh and one more thing! I babysat you! I remember there was a spider in the bedroom and we all screamed!

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