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 Milka Ternina

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Milka Ternina

  • Birth 19 Dec 1863 Sisacko-Moslavacka, Croatia
  • Death 18 May 1941 Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, City of Zagreb (Grad Zagreb), Croatia
  • Burial Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, City of Zagreb (Grad Zagreb), Croatia
  • Memorial ID 84755570

Opera Singer. A premier dramatic soprano of the late 19th century, she is probably best remembered for her Wagnerian interpretations. Born Katarina Milka Ternina in the village of Vezisice, she studied privately in Zagreb and then at the Vienna Conservatory from which she graduated in 1883 with a gold medal; while a student, Milka made her 1882 operatic bow at Zagreb as Amalia from Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera", then after leaving the conservatory had brief stays in Leipzig and Graz before being engaged at Bremin on the recommendation of Wagner's former assistant Anton Seidl. While at Bremin Milka was exposed to Wagner's "Ring Cycle" for the first time, then in 1890 moved on to the Munich Royal Opera (now, Bavarian State Opera) where she was designated Kammersangerin (KS) and became known as an exponent of Wagner's soprano leads as well as of Leonore from Beethoven's "Fidelio". In 1896 Milka made her American bow at Boston as Brunnhilde of Wagner's "Die Walkure" then in 1898 was first heard at London's Covent Garden as the title Irish princess in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde". In 1899 she was chosen by Cosima Wagner herself to sing Kundry in a Bayreuth Festspielhaus presentation of "Parsifal"; Milka made her Metropolitan Opera debut on January 27, 1900 as Elisabeth in Wagner's "Tannhauser" and later that same year took the lead in the first Covent Garden presentation of Puccini's "Tosca". In 1901 at the Metropolitan she sang the first American Tosca then on Christmas Eve 1903 was the Metropolitan's first Kundry in a production of "Parsifal" that received praise but also resulted in the entire cast being banned from Bayreuth for presenting the work outside of Wagner's personal sacred shrine. Milka gave her final performance as Elisabeth on May 28, 1906 at Covent Garden and was soon driven from the stage by a facial nerve palsy that doctors were unable to treat; she announced her retirement in 1907 and initially lived at Berchtesgaden in 'Villa Ternina', the same house later used as a vacation retreat by Adolf Hitler. Relocating to Zagreb in 1913, she became a distinguished teacher, her best known student being the legendary soprano Zinka Milanov. As far as can be determined, she made no studio recordings, though she can be heard on some of Lionel Mapleson's cylinders from the Metropolitan. Today a waterfall in Plitvice National Park carries her name as does a brand of Swiss chocolate bar.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 10 Feb 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 84755570
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Milka Ternina (19 Dec 1863–18 May 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 84755570, citing Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, City of Zagreb (Grad Zagreb), Croatia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .