Jeritza (real name, Jedlitzkova), Maria

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Jeritza (real name, Jedlitzkova), Maria

Jeritza (real name, Jedlitzkova ), Maria, celebrated Moravian-born American soprano; b. Brunn, Oct. 6, 1887; d. Orange, N.J., July 10, 1982. She studied in Brünn and sang in the Stadttheater chorus there. After completing her training in Prague, she made her formal operatic debut as Elsa in Lohengrin in Olomouc (1910), then became a member of the Vienna Volksoper. In 1912 Emperor Franz Josef heard her sing in Bad Ischi, after which he decreed that she should be engaged at the Vienna Court Opera, where she made her first appearance as Oberleitner’s Aphrodite. Strauss then chose her to create the title role in his opera Ariadne auf Naxos (Stuttgart, Oct. 25, 1912), and also in its revised version (Vienna, Oct. 4, 1916); she likewise created the role of the Empress in his Die Frau ohne Schatten (Vienna, Oct. 10, 1919). On Nov. 19, 1921, she made her U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. in the first U.S. production of Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt. Her compelling portrayals of Tosca and Turandot quickly secured her place as the prima donna assoluta there, and she remained on its roster until 1932. She made her debut at London’s Covent Garden as Tosca on June 16, 1926. Throughout the years, she remained a leading singer in Vienna as well, continuing to appear there until 1935. In 1943 she became a naturalized American citizen. She again sang in Vienna (1949–52); also appeared as Rosalinda in a Metropolitan Opera benefit performance of Die Fledermaus in N.Y. (Feb. 22, 1951). At the zenith of her career in the years between the two world wars, she won extraordinary acclaim in such roles as Sieglinde, Elisabeth, Santuzza, Fedora, Thaïs, Carmen, Salome, Octavian, Tosca, and Turandot. She led a colorful life, both on and off the operatic stage: she married three times, had many romantic affairs, and her spats with fellow artists became legendary. She publ, an autobiography, Sunlight and Song (N.Y., 1924).


E. Decsey, M. J. (Vienna, 1931); R. Werba, M. J.: Primadonna des Verismo (Vienna, 1981).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire