Maria Jeritza

Maria Jeritza

Brno, Okres Brno-mesto, Jihomoravský (South Moravia), Czech Republic
Death 10 Jul 1982 (aged 94)
Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Burial North Arlington, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Plot Blk-5 Sec-H Gr-101 4A
Memorial ID 9134 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A premier soprano of the early 20th century, her exuberant style and difficult temperament gave her the nickname "The Moravian Thunderbolt". Born Mimi Jedlickova, she was raised in the Czech city of Brno in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, studied at the local conservatory from around 14, and overcame early stage fright to sing in the chorus of the local Municipal Theatre until her high-notes, good looks, and commanding presence made an impression. Her 'official' debut came in 1910 at Olomouc as Elsa in Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin"; soon heard by Emperor Franz Joseph, she was signed by the Imperial Opera (Vienna State Opera) where she was designated Kammersangerin (KS) in 1913 and was to be a mainstay until 1935. Over her career she performed around 70 principal roles at the leading opera houses of Europe and North America in German, Italian, French, English, and Czech. Able to sing works ranging from light operetta to the heaviest Wagner, she was called upon for several world premieres including Blanchefleur in Wilhelm Kienzl's "Der Kuhreigen" in Vienna on November 23, 1911, Ariadne from Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" at Stuttgart on October 25, 1912 with Strauss on the podium, the Empress of the same composer's "Die Frau ohne Schatten" in Vienna on October 10,1919, and Marie/Marietta in Erich Korngold's "Die tote Stadt" at Hamburg on December 4, 1920. Making her bow at New York's Metropolitan Opera on November 19, 1921 with "Die tote Stadt", she became the first to sing the soprano leads from a number of significant works there, among them Leos Janacek's "Jenufa" (1924), Korngold's "Violanta" (1927), and Franz von Suppe's "Boccaccio" (1931), as well as Strauss' "The Egyptian Helen", and "Salome". Madame Jeritza was particularly noted for the title roles of Jules Massenet's "Thais", Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot", and Georges Bizet's "Carmen", though her undoubted signature piece was the title heroine of Puccini's "Tosca". Always an artist who did things her own way, she would not, despite the important point in the story-line that Tosca is dark haired, deign to wear a black wig as other blonde sopranos have done. Her trademark prone-position "Vissi d'arte" in act II, which has been copied with varied success, was the result of an accidental fall at a dress rehearsal that Maestro Puccini saw, liked, and insisted she continue. Among her other praised characterizations thru the years were the title leads of Ponchielli's "La Gioconda" and Umberto Giordano's "Fedora", Octavian in Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier", Sieglinde of Wagner's "Ring Cycle", Santuzza from Mascagni's "Cavallaria Rusticana", and Minnie in Puccini's American-themed "The Girl of the Golden West"; after leaving the Metropolitan in 1932, she appeared in several movies, by openly flouting Hitler was instrumental in saving a number of Moravian Jews, and was named Grand Dame de la Croix du Saint Sepulcre by Pope Pius XII during World War II, then following the conflict helped raise money to repair the damaged Vienna State Opera House and the Cathedral of Prague. Interestingly, while she could be imperial in bearing and a holy terror to her 'equals', she was warm and courteous to her legion of fans who were quite free to address her as 'Mimi'. Madame Jeritza married for the third and last time in 1948 and retired to Newark, New Jersey where she lived out her days and is buried in the Bergen County family plot of her husband Irving Seery. Richard Strauss dedicated his last song, "Malven", to her, and though she demanded that it be suppressed during her lifetime, following her demise it was recorded by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Never comfortable, or by her own estimation very good, in the studio she nevertheless created a significant recorded legacy which has remained continually in print and is available on CD.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 16 Apr 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 9134
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maria Jeritza (6 Oct 1887–10 Jul 1982), Find a Grave Memorial no. 9134, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .