Maria Jeritza (1887-1982)
Maria Jeritza, Baroness Popper, Czech soprano (later a naturalized US citizen),
studied in Brno and Prague, made her début at Olmütz in 1910 (a
Elsa), then joined the Vienna Volskoper, and in 1912 appeared at the Hofoper.
She quickly became an immense favorite in Vienna, where she sang regularly for
over two decades. She was an especially admired Tosca, Minnie and Turandot.
Among her many Strauss roles she was the first Ariadne in both versions of
Ariadne auf Naxos
(Stuttgart in 1912 and Vienna in 1919), and the first Empress in
Die Frau ohne Schatten
(Vienna, 1919). Having sung Marietta in the first Vienna performance of
Di tote Stadt
in 1921, she repeated this role for her Metropolitan début later that
year. Of greater musical significance was her Jenufa in both the first Viennese
(1918) and first New York (1924) performances of Janacek’s masterpiece.
During the next 12 years she became recognized as the Metropolitan’s most
glamorous and beautiful star since the days of Geraldine Farrar, and
appropriately introduced to New York both Puccini’s
Die ägyptische Helena.
Her Covent Garden performances were confined to seven roles during 1925 and
1926, whereas at the Metropolitan she sang 290 performances in 20 roles. After
World War II she made isolated appearances in Vienna and New York.
by Georges Bizet
Though endowed with an ample and lustrous voice, Jeritza belonged to the
artist known as a singing actress’, freely yielding both
dramatically and vocally to impulses that were sometimes more flamboyant than
refined. In her numerous records, faults of taste and technique co-exist with
genuine vocal achievement. (from Desmond Shawe-Taylor)
Unfortunately, the only Jeritza recording I currently have is the Habanera.
This is generally considered mezzo soprano territory, but many sopranos have
taken on the part.