“Verstummt der süssen Stimme Schall”:1 the Destiny of Four Croatian Singers in the “Long 19th Century”
Ilma de Murska, Irma Terputec-Terée, Emma Wiziak de Nicolesco et Milka Ternina : la destinée de ces quatre cantatrices les mènent, au xixe siècle, depuis la Croatie jusqu’aux plus grandes scènes du monde entier. À bien des égards, leurs carrières reflètent ce que fut, à cette époque, la culture musicale dans cette partie de l’empire des Habsbourg. Mais chacune d’entre elles porte aussi une singularité qui tient aux normes sociales de leur temps et de leur milieu respectif. Retracer ces quatre biographies réclame donc d’articuler les enjeux politiques et culturels, leur statut social et financier à ce qui relève de la vie privée, des relations personnelles et de leurs choix musicaux.
* Traduction de l’allemand : « Le son de la douce voix s’est éteint »
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- 1 “The sweet sound of her voice is silenced now for good.”
- 2 Itinerant theatre companies appear in the documentation from the 16th century onwards while church (...)
- 3 The adaptation of the existing halls into theatres starts only in the second half of the 18th centu (...)
1The itineraries of travelling theatre companies began to take in towns in the Croatian lands, firstly on the Adriatic coast,2 and then, in the 18th century, in continental Croatia as well,3 sparking growing interest in this form of musical entertainment among the nobility and wealthier citizens.
2As the audience became aware of the need for venues in which theatrical pieces could be staged irrespective of the weather, purpose-built theatres began to appear bringing with them the need to train performers to fill them. Music education in the Croatian lands in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was relatively underdeveloped and concentrated primarily on basic musical knowledge for clerics and teachers. Most composers sought additional or higher education abroad (Giulio Bajamonti from Split in Venice and Padua, for example, and Luca Sorgo from Dubrovnik in Rome) or turned to private church or secular and later even military tutors (like Leopold Ebner in Varaždin).
3The music societies established in many Croatian towns from the 1820s onwards, realized that the systematic education of their members and of talented individuals was a priority. For example, Zagreb Musikverein (“Musical Society”) (1827) founded a school two years after its inauguration, which is now one of the longest running in Croatia. It was generously subsidized as of 1860 and eventually gave rise to the Conservatory of Music. After World War I, it became the Academy of Music.
- 4 Especially intensive commitment to this issue was shown by the Börnstein brothers: Heinrich publish (...)
4The first theatre companies, which had organized music performances in towns on the eastern Adriatic coast and in continental Croatia since the 18th century, came from Austrian and Italian cities and performed their standard repertoire in German or Italian. With the onset of the National Movement in the 1830s, they often encouraged performances in Croatian.4 As a result in 1846 German and Croatian forces, military and civilian musicians, professionals and amateurs all came together to perform Croatia’s first national opera, Love and Malice, by a young local composer, Vatroslav Lisinski (1819-1854). The first domestic prima donna was Countess Sidonija Erdödy (1819-1884), who studied singing with renowned visiting singers –soloists or members of German companies. As the opera’s female lead, she confirmed her support for the National Movement as other nobles had done but, given the restrictions of her rank, she never developed a significant singing career.
- 5 Mirjana Gross, Počeci moderne Hrvatske. Neoapsolutizam u civilnoj Hrvatskoj I Slavoniji 1850-1860. (...)
5After the 1848/1849 revolution, the Habsburg Monarchy’s government in Vienna set out to establish a strong, centralized and absolutist state, funded largely by regional industrialization. It also sought to annihilate centripetal revolutionary forces. This period of neo-absolutism created the legal framework for modernization in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia but its highly traditional, feudal society was unable to engage with the task. Even after the abolition of the neo-absolutist law, Croatia remained poor, paying high taxes to the central government, and the second half of the century was marked by only fragmentary modernization.5 Nevertheless, the end of neo-absolutism gave an impetus to Croatian cultural development even as Vienna remained a strong centrifugal force because of its institutions, social stratification and rich consumption of culture. The Zagreb Musikverein was among the institutions to receive state subsidies. Some new Croatian newspapers began to be published in 1860 and 1861, the Croatian National Theatre was founded in 1861 and the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1866. This brief period of cultural florescence was slowed if not entirely halted by the 1868 Croatian-Hungarian Compromise (following the Austrian-Hungarian Crompromise of 1867), which subordinated Croatia politically and financially to Hungary, a status it retained until the end of World War I.
6From the Zagreb Musikverein School’s inception, the Styrian Ignaz/Vatroslav Lichtenegger (1809-1885) acted as its main singing teacher, training a number of excellent singers during a career that lasted more than half a century. Given the lack of higher professional music training in Zagreb, many of his pupils continued their education and pursued careers abroad.
7This article will look at three of his students, Ilma de Murska, Emma Vizjak de Nicolescu and Irma Terputec-Terée, and at Milka Ternina, also a student of the Zagreb Musikverein but the pupil of Ida Wimberger.
8The fate of these four singers, launched into the world from the Croatian lands, reflects the state of music culture and education in this particular crown land of the Habsburg Monarchy. At the same time, it demonstrates the cultural requirements of the other milieus in which they were active and particularly the specific position of women who persisted in following their own creative paths despite countervailing prejudices and traditions.
- 6 Many elements of her biography were revealed in an article by Croatian musicologist Franjo Ksaver K (...)
9Ilma de Murska was born Ema Pukšec6 into the family of a military officer in the small military town of Ogulin. Her musical talents were discovered at the age of five when she began to take piano lessons. When she was 16, her family moved to Zagreb and she started having private singing lessons from Moravian orchestra musician Leopold Ružička and a little later from Vatroslav Lichtenegger. The following year she married a lieutenant, Joseph Eder, and soon gave birth to a son and a daughter. A few years after moving with her family to Otočac, another small regimental town, where she tried to perfect her singing, she decided to take further lessons in Graz with Joseph Netzer, the director of the Standestheater. Her husband opposed her ambitions but gave in when she threatened suicide (allegedly going so far as to jump into the Mur River). In 1860 she passed the entrance examination for the Vienna Conservatory, changed her name to Ilma de Murska (or di Murska), and, passing herself off as unmarried, took singing lessons with Mathilde Marchesi. When her teacher was involved in a scandal and had to leave Vienna, she followed her to Paris. The press recognized her singing talents, which led to her first engagements.
- 7 Linzer Tagespost (1 July 1888, p. 2), in the obituary for Jakob Eder (a Hungarian violinist, born 1 (...)
- 8 Her last guest performance at the Viennese Hofoper, as Ophelia in Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas, was an (...)
- 9 On 21 February 1869, p. 4. Further, in connection with the opera Das Landhaus in Meudon by the loca (...)
- 10 Blätter für Musik, Theater und Kunst, 8 March 1867, p. 3: the announcement of “Erstes historisches (...)
10Aged 28, she was launched on her professional singing career at Florence’s Teatro della Pergola in 1862 as Marguerite de Valois in Meyerbeer’s Huguenots. She developed her repertoire in the theatres of Italy (between Florence and Catania), Spain (Barcelona’s Teatro del Liceo) and Berlin (the Hoftheater and Kroll Theater).7 She appeared before audiences in Vienna from 1864 to 18738 (being fully engaged from 1865-1867), where she performed some 230 times in at least seventeen different roles. The opera reviewer who signed himself “Caligula” in the Wiener Sonn- und Montags-Zeitung spoke of her as “die Coloraturgöttin.”9 She was among the popular performers who took part in Leopold Alexander Zellner’s so-called Historical Concerts, along with other opera singers like Gabriele Krauß, Caroline Bettelheim, Gustav Walter, etc.10
- 11 Mapleson occasionally united forces with British opera manager Frederic Gye.
- 12 She performed in at least fifteen operas in the 1865-1870 period.
- 13 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 5, Aug. 9, 1866, N° 16, p. 253. From their regular repor (...)
- 14 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 5, 1866, N° 8, p. 172.
- 15 Barbieri lists her forty-two appearances in twelve operas by Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Rossini, Me (...)
11She was also engaged in the stagioni of Mapleson’s Opera Company11 in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre, in Drury Lane and at Covent Garden, where she sang12 with Thérèse Tietjens and other prominent singers. The reviewer of the American Art Journal’s “Musical Gossip” section, a regular reporter on the European stages, called her Mapleson’s “meteor singer” and said that she “still piques London into ecstatic frenzy with her very original style of acting, her daring fioriture, and brilliant moments of passion.”13 In England, she also performed at concerts, as seen from the following notice: “On June 16th, at Sydenham Palace Concerts, de Murska, Ennquist, Foli, Gardoni and others, from Mapleson’s opera, sang at a five shillings admission fee.”14 Occasionally, she gave guest performances in Budapest, at the German Theatre.15
- 16 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 6, 1867, N° 21, p. 332.
- 17 The most recent edition of Ludwig Eisenberg’s Grosses biographisches Lexikon der deutschen Bühne im (...)
- 18 Ibid., p. 87.
12Her name occurs in the reviews of daily and weekly newspapers of various intellectual levels, more often concerned with tittle-tattle than with her artistic output. It was reported, for example, that the “severe influenza which has prevailed in Berlin and other German cities, during this winter affected several operatic artists seriously. De Murska, Bettelheim, Krauss, Dustmann and Ferenczy –a tenor– are reported as disabled by it from performance at present.”16 It was not at all difficult to find such “easy” topics about de Murska. Herman Klein, in his book Great Women-Singers of my Time,17 devotes an entire chapter to her, entitled “Ilma di Murska –the Brilliant but Eccentric,” comparing her with Adelina Patti and the younger Pauline Lucca. He wrote of her outstanding voice, ranging three octaves in equal strength, the ease of her performance, her exquisite technique in coloraturas, as well as her engaged acting. She enjoyed the roles of fantasy female characters –fairies and other mystical, twisted figures, with the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute apparently one of her highlights. Klein also quotes the words of the English critic Henry Sutherland Edwards: “Mlle di Murska never ceases to hold the attention of her audience. She is full of life, and every one of her gestures, and even glances, is significant. Sometimes, no doubt, she exaggerates, now in one direction, now in another…”18 That “exaggeration” was another reference to her “eccentricity”, which ranged from having lunch with her dog to making huge financial demands. Allegedly, she also sang in St Petersburg, where negotiations for her to perform in Olomouc began. It is reported from Olomouc:
- 19 “Man berichtet aus Olmütz: ‘Die Unterhandlungen mit der Coloratursängerin Frl. Ilma v. Murska, welc (...)
The negotiations with the coloratura singer Miss Ilma de Murska, that have so far come to nought because of her high fees of four hundred guldens for a single evening and the costs of refunding the fares of two persons, might hopefully come to a positive end in the days ahead and thus enable the citizens of Olomouc to enjoy two evenings listening to the singer.19
13Fighting over contracts often led to unpleasantnesses, as was the case in 1867:
- 20 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 7, 1867, N° 8, p. 124-125.
I perceive that that great pet of the English public, Mlle Ilma de Murska, has been offending the whole of Austria and Germany. The celebrated Hungarian prima donna first quarrelled with Mr Salvi, manager of the Viennese Theatre, on the score that he, Mr Salvi, wanted to lower her terms. It is well known that Mr Salvi is even a greater theatrical economist than he is a diplomatist. But the disagreement between Mlle de Murska and the director of the Viennese opera did not preclude her fulfilling an engagement elsewhere. It appears that the capricious songstress had contracted with the manager of the Hamburg Theatre to give a series of representations. She failed in her agreement, and the result is that she is interdicted by the Committee of the German Dramatic Association –as Contractbrüchig, refractory towards the theatre or Hamburg– from appearing at any theatre in the Fatherland. The young lady, therefore, must look to England, France, and Italy for her future support.20
- 21 Ludwig Eisenberg’s Grosses biographisches Lexikon, p. 706.
- 22 “Die gegen Fräulein v. Murska den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen gemäß eröffnete Untersuchung nach der v (...)
14She appears to have ridden out the storm and continued performing “in her fatherland” until 1873. Or, perhaps her problems were caused by dubious investments, as was mentioned by Eisenberg21 and perhaps hinted at in a short announcement in the Viennese press.22
15Parts of her later career remain insufficiently explored. Some biographical articles reveal her engagement in America:
- 23 “Große Sensation erregte die Künstlerin anfangs der 70er Jahre mit ihren Glanzrollen ‚Lucia’, ‘Köni (...)
The artist was a great sensation in the early 1870s with her best roles, ‘Lucia’, ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Elvira’ (Don Juan), ‘Amina’ (La Sonnambula), etc., and in 1874, under the most brilliant terms, she committed herself to going to America; there she extended their guest performances as far as San Francisco and since that time she has not set foot in the old world.23
- 24 William Brooks, “Maretzek, Max,” in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 15, Lond (...)
- 25 Other performers were: M. Vizzani, M. Rosi-Galli, Miss Leidecker, Mme. Feretti, M. Locatelli.
- 26 Also performing were: M. Mari, Francesca Natali Testa, Enrico Tamberlik, M. Rosi-Galli, Miss Leidec (...)
- 27 New York Clipper, 7 November 1873.
- 28 Appleton’s Journal mentions Ilma de Murska singing in the Maretzek company in 1874 and Pauline Lucc (...)
16In 1873, she appears to have joined the Italian opera company of Moravian emigrant Max Maretzek, an impresario who managed –among others– the Astor Place Company in New York, “and touring the USA, Cuba and Mexico. He managed to engage excellent singers and conducted the American premières of La Traviata (1856) and Don Carlos (1877).”24 For example, they gave two performances in Philadelphia in November 1873: La Sonnambula (on 10 November with Murska as Amina),25 and Il Trovatore (with Murska as Leonora) the following day.26 In late October, they had performed some operas in Boston but to only indifferent reviews.27 At the time, their main rival was Maurice Strakosch and his opera company which probably saw off Maretzek’s company in 1874.28
17The dynamic star, now nearly forty, was evidently drawn to the role of impresario. Wiener Salonblatt gives more details of her adventurous trips:
- 29 “[…] In Havannah, wo bekanntlich die besten Cigarren wachsen und die Spanier sich mit den Eingeborn (...)
In Havana, where the best cigars are known to grow and the Spaniards occasionally to get involved in murderous discussions with the natives, two beautiful Austrian nightingales now live, Mrs Pauline Lucca and Mrs Ilma de Murska, or as the latter prefers to hear, Miss Ilma de Murska. When the great opera- and prima donna-crash in New York caused a break with Maretzek’s company, the above-mentioned ladies went as female impresarios to Cuba and dragged the entire opera company there on a specially hired steamer. All went well at first but after a few weeks, there was a great change. Various delicate stories, which eluded the general public and testified to the hot blood of that mongrel Race, divided the fans of the opera into two parts, one side worshiping the blonde Croatian, the other the black-eyed girl from Vienna…29
18There was more to come, however.
19Two years later Neuigkeits Welt Blatt reported her trip to Australia:
- 30 “Ilma von Murska’s Erlebnisse in Australien schildert eine amerikanische Korrespondenz wie folgt: ‘ (...)
An American correspondent portrayed Ilma de Murska’s experiences in Australia as follows: Ilma de Murska, the well-known and popular singer in Austria and especially in Vienna, has indeed done good business in Australia, but she must also have garnered bitter experiences. That she was first condemned to pay a substantial fine for singing at a concert, to which a music-shop in Sidney had the copyright, was the easiest issue to get over, but she married an Australian and that provoked her misery. The new husband was Alfred Anderson; it soon turned out that he was sick and frail but he knew admirably well how to throw the singer’s assets out of the window with both hands. Finally, he fell seriously ill and returned to live in his parents’ house in Melbourne, where he was allowed to see his wife only rarely. Eventually, he died but made a will in which he recklessly bequeathed all the singer’s property to his parents. The matter is now to come before the courts in Melbourne.30
- 31 Morgen-Post, 6 August 1876, p. 5.
- 32 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 42, 48.
- 33 Emanuel Rubin: “Jeanette Meyers Thurber and the National Conservatory of Music,” American Music, 8/ (...)
- 34 Ibid., p. 299.
20After her marriage to Anderson cost her her fortune, she went on tour again after his death and in May 1876 married one John Hill in Dunedin, New Zealand, “ein Musiklehrer in Melbourne von einigem Ruf (a music teacher in Melbourne with a certain reputation)”.31 This latest match failed to hold her back, however, and a few years later she was back in the United States. She is reported to have sung in Europe in 1880, giving eight performances in Budapest,32 but soon returning to the United States. She allegedly gave singing lessons at the National Conservatory in New York, which was formally opened only in 1885 when its founder, Jeannette M. Thurber, “a wealthy, idealistic New Yorker who devoted most of her life to the school,” persuaded wealthy citizens, like “Andrew Carnegie, William K. Vanderbilt, Joseph W. Drexel, and August Belmont to join her in establishing a school of music modelled after the Paris Conservatory”33 which she had attended. Having also founded the American Opera Company, she wanted to train performers for its troupe. In November 1887, she started to publish advertisements and there, beside the director, Belgian baritone Jacques Bouhy, and other prominent teachers, was the name of Ilma de Murska–singing teacher.34
- 35 As was stated in Zagreb newspaper Narodne novine on 24 January 1889.
- 36 The citation in the title is taken from the final verses carved on the grave of Ilma de Murska: “Ve (...)
21It seems that her method and her way of singing were already out of date, however, and there may have been further bad investments.35 All the sources dealing with her final days agree that she returned to Europe, to her daughter Hermina Czedik von Bründelsberg in Munich. Disillusioned and both financially and physically exhausted, she died there on 14 January 1889. In accordance with her will, her daughter destroyed all her letters before committing suicide, distraught by her mother’s death and by health problems of her own. Again in keeping with the singer’s will, mother and daughter were cremated and interred in Gotha.36
22Irma Terputec, another pupil of Lichtenegger at the Zagreb Musikverein School, led a less turbulent existence although her life had paradoxes and dark times of its own. What is known about her comes largely from secondary sources: articles by a less than reliable writer, Antonija Kassowitz-Cvijić, and her own interviews with the press, which tend to be contradictory. The facts, even those about her very early life, need further investigation and some have been examined as part of this study.
- 37 Agramer Zeitung, 28 July 1856, p. 2.
- 38 Snježana Miklaušić-Ćeran: Glazbeni život Zagreba u 19. stoljeću u svjetlu koncertnih programa sačuv (...)
23Irma Terputec (also written Trputec, Terputetz) was born in Zagreb, probably in 1842, into the well-known family of the chief judge of the regional court. Early lessons with Lichtenegger revealed her talents and she gave what was probably her first public performance in the student examination concert on 27 July 1856. Her singing was praised, although the Agramer Zeitung did not say what piece she performed.37 Two years later, on 1 August 1858, she sang an aria from Verdi’s Il Trovatore to much applause.38
- 39 The Viennese press, like Die Presse, Fremden-Blatt, Das Vaterland and Wiener Zeitung regularly publ (...)
- 40 Cf the article “Iz prošlih dana” in the journal Glasonoša, 1907, N° 20; according to Barbieri, Hrva (...)
- 41 “[…] mit Lust und Liebe an seine Aufabe geht, aber noch sehr in den Anfängen steckt und mit der col (...)
24Despite the prevailing mores which held that girls from “good families” should stay home and get married, her father allowed her to go to Vienna (accompanied by her mother) to attend the Conservatory. According to Kassowitz-Cvijić, she studied with Mathilde Marchesi (as well as Ilma de Murska), under the protection of the Empress Elisabeth. This appears to be borne out by her contacts with the Empress when the latter visited Zagreb in 1869. Unlike Ilma de Murska, Terputec was quite a regular visitor to Zagreb where she stayed in contact with her teacher, received financial support from the bishop of the Djakovo diocese, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, and participated in various performances, both concerts and opera productions. At the beginning of her career, during the 1860s, she had a contract with the Viennese Harmonietheater, where she sang in operas39 and at concerts under the name “Fräulein Irma von Terée”. Her choice of family name is itself a mystery. It was not her married name as far as we know and was said to have perhaps been a French rendering of her Croatian surname, T(e)rputec, and a reference to a healing herb although this cannot be proved.40 The press reported that in the role of Ninka in Auber’s Le Dieu et la Bayadère, she “sets herself with pleasure and love to task but is still at her commencements and is in discord with the coloratura.”41
- 42 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 66.
- 43 Prager Abendblatt, 12 May 1868, p. 2: announcements, where she is presented as a guest singer from (...)
- 44 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 66.
25A contract with the Stadttheater in Hamburg followed but she also gave guest performances in Zagreb in 1868,42 in Prague (in Meyerbeer’s Afrikanerin and Flotow’s Alessandro Stradella),43 and in Krakow, Lviv, Rostock, Budapest, Klagenfurt, Villach, etc., singing mostly in Meyerbeer’s operas Robert der Teufel and Dinorah but also in operas by Donizetti and von Flotow.44
26The arrival of the royal couple, Francis Joseph I and his consort Elisabeth, in Zagreb in March 1869 must surely have been a special occasion for her although she was not the only Croatian musician there from Vienna. Zagreb-born pianist Julius Epstein, a piano professor at the Vienna Conservatory, was invited to take part in the festivities. He was in permanent contact with the Zagreb Musikverein and his teacher, Lichtenegger. There is a degree of malice in the press reports (both Croatian and Viennese/Austrian) about their visit to Zagreb:
- 45 “Das Herrscherpaar fährt in einem zweispännigen Wagen von Bahnhof in die Residenz. […] Aus kompeten (...)
The royal couple travels in a two-horse carriage from the station to the residence. […] From a reliable source, the news comes to us, that the pianist Mr Julius Epstein is not organising the royal chamber concert, but only participates in it; besides, there will also be involved: Miss Terputec-Terrée, gentlemen: Kunwald, Moor, Schwarz, Ertl, Simm, Eisenhut.45
- 46 For this and the dignitaries’ other festive receptions in Zagreb, see the article: Vjera Katalinić, (...)
27The concert was duly performed on 10 March, a day after the Viennese operetta Nach Mekka! by Croatia’s most popular composer, Ivan Zajc.46 On that occasion, the Empress, known as Sissi, talked to the singer Terée, while the Emperor had a brief conversation with Epstein.
- 47 The data has been preserved in libretti, accompanying the performances of Donizetti’s Die Tochter d (...)
- 48 Neue Freie Presse 15 November 1874, p. 7.
- 49 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 67.
- 50 Allegedly, another Croatian singer Teray did indeed die at that time in Baden near Vienna and sever (...)
28In 1872 Terputec was in Berlin. In 1874 she was engaged by the Stadttheater in Nuremberg and sang in Leipzig as a guest.47 Soon after, she was given a contract in Leipzig and that same year she appeared in Vienna as Elvira in Mozart’s Don Juan “as the guest of honour of the Stadttheater in Leipzig”.48 Her tour in Vienna and later at the Landestheater in Graz lasted until summer 1875. She went back to Zagreb and also performed in benefit performances for the poor in Karlovac,49 a visit that proves she was still alive even though theatre chronicler Josip Andrić published a premature In memoriam for her in 1874.50
29At the end of 1877 she was in Vienna again, as a guest from the Deutsche Oper in Amsterdam. After that, she probably signed a contract with the Komische Oper in Vienna, which gave her the opportunity of more regular visits to Zagreb. In the early 1880s, she sang in church concerts in Vienna, in the parish church of Alservorstadt, the Franciscan church, etc. Antonija Kassowitz-Cvijić writes that she also performed in the Opera until 1887 and that her last performance was in the Augustinerkirche.
30Newspaper reviewers and audiences liked her coloraturas and praised her dedicated acting and singing but she seems always to have been considered “second rank.” Her temper was vivid and –according to Kassowitz-Cvijić– her teacher Marchesi called her “the wild Croatian.”
- 51 “Frau Irma Edle von Terputecz-Terée ist aus Gmunden zum Winteraufenthalte nach Wien zurückgekehrt,” (...)
- 52 Her daughter sent a telegram that was published in Zagreb newspaper Narodne novine, N° 104, on 6 Ma (...)
31She seems to have valued her privacy and her personal life is shrouded in uncertainty. She is believed to have married a Mr Schmitt and to have had a daughter. She was permanently resident in Vienna where she had two houses and holidayed in the Austrian provinces. Wiener Salonblatt reported in 1899 that “Mrs Irma Terputecz-Terée has returned from Gmunden to Vienna for her stay over winter.”51 It was the first time she had been addressed as “Frau” and she was over 50! She passed away in Vienna in 1907. She is known to have attempted suicide and to have died of her injuries a few days later. There were reports that she wanted to end her life because of poverty but her daughter claimed she jumped from a window in the grip of mental illness (persecution mania).52
32Unlike Vatroslav Lichtenegger’s two previous pupils, Ema Vizjak went on to study at the Prague Conservatory with Italian singer Giovanni Battista Gordigiani. The first indication of her talent came at a concert given by the Conservatory in 1864. A review was published in the Czech newspaper, Nàrod, and immediately taken up by Zagreb’s German-language newspaper, Agramer Zeitung:
- 53 “Unter allen Mitwirkenden (Schüllern des Conservatoriums) excellirte am Meisten eine Elevin der Ope (...)
Among all the participants (students of the Conservatory) the most brilliant was an apprentice of the opera school, Miss Emma Vizjak, an ardent Croatian from Zagreb. Still very young, she already makes an eminent impression both by her sonorous, likable and soft voice, and by the grace and liveliness of her appearance; also, she has advanced in her artistic education so far that we can boldly predict that she will have the most brilliant successes in her operatic career. Distinguished by natural grace and a special delicacy of feeling, she knew how to give her presentation life and warmth, even if it was such an unfamiliar composition as the ungrateful aria from Oriazi e Curiazi by Cimarosa, which she sang on Sunday. The promising singer was honoured twice by curtain call.53
33Other Prague publications were equally full of praise and wished the young girl, still only seventeen, much luck in her future career.
- 54 Snježana Miklaušić-Ćeran lists the repertoire in: Glazbeni život Zagreba u 19. stoljeću, p. 294-295 (...)
- 55 Agramer Zeitung, 22 August 1864, p. 2.
34Also in 1864, she appeared in three concerts in the Zagreb theatre, performing a fairly demanding repertoire, primarily comprising arias from Croatian and Italian operas.54 The first concert was part of the festivities to accompany the international Economic and Agricultural Exhibition. It was attended by the Ban (Viceroy) and Bishop Strossmayer and, as one reviewer remarked, the young soprano, Ema Vizjak, was the highlight of the evening.55 An announcement, published in Agramer Zeitung on 5 September 1864 and signed by the managing committee of the Musikverein, indicates not only how her past studies in Prague had been financed but also sets out plans for her future.
35It is quoted here in full for the first time:
Miss Emma Vizjak, who has returned from Prague, where she studied the art of music at the city’s Conservatory for three years, supported by voluntary contributions from high-minded Croatian-Slavonian patriots, proved by her participation in concerts, organized by the National Music Institute on 19 and 22 August last year on the occasion of the festivities of the first exhibition of the Triune Kingdom, that she has a pleasant, pure, melodious and very extensive voice, and that she has reached a significant level of music and may be allowed hope of a bright future.
The seed sown by the donations of her benefactors for her sojourn in Prague, as well as her talent and her diligence, have thus produced the best fruits.
What now needs to be done is for these fruits of Croatia’s musical art to be safeguarded for the future and secured against corruption. This would inevitably happen if the seventeen-year old singer were now to now devote herself to the stage, where by contrast, she would tend to round out her comprehension of music, and through the development of her physical powers to strengthen her delicate voice.
The Direction of the National State Music Institute considers this Croatian singer to be a jewel of the Croatian-Slavonic nation; it wants to keep her for the future, and thus to ensure the establishment of the Croatian opera.
For these reasons, the Direction has decided to send Miss Emma Vizjak to Milan for one year to complete her education in music. The relevant costs –which will be greater because the necessities of life are more expensive there, and because it will not be possible to study at the Conservatorium free of charge but the most prominent masters will have to be paid accordingly– will be covered by voluntary contributions as before. Their collection and management will be entrusted, as before, to the Secretary of the Royal Government, Mr Johann Vardian.
- 57 “[…] von Seite des zahlreich versammelten Publicums stürmischen Applaus erhielt, der sich wiederhol (...)
36Her year in Milan was obviously successful. The Zagreb press reported her opera performances in Florence’s Teatro Pagliano (the Teatro Verdi since 1901), where she appeared in Un ballo in maschera, receiving “stormy applause from the large audience when performing the Jewellery-aria from ‘Faust’ with virtuosity and the highest intelligence.”57 She spent carnival season there and was engaged for the following stagione as well, during which she appeared in various concerts.
- 58 Fremden-Blatt, 31 October 1866, p. 6.
- 59 Ricordi published a libretto containing the relevant information; she performed with another Prague (...)
- 60 http://www.lavoceantica.it/Cronologia/A%20-%20B%20-%20C/Africana.htm (20 May 2015).
37In October 1866, she sang at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, her progress monitored by the Italian and Croatian press, and in Liverpool, where she took part in the opening performance of Gounod’s Faust at the new Prince of Wales Theatre, with the famous Theresa Tietjens and others.58 She spent the 1867/1868 carnival season at the Teatro Regio di Torino in Verdi’s Don Carlos,59 and would return there from Milan in 1869/1870 after what were said to be highly successful guest appearances in Bucharest. In 1870, she also sang at the Royal Theatre in Odessa and the Grand Theatre in Warsaw,60 always in title roles and to great applause. Her career continued in Italy. During the 1870s, at the Teatro di Apollo in Rome and on other Italian stages, she often performed lead roles in Meyerbeer and Verdi operas but also appeared in less well-known works, such as, I promessi sposi, Manfredo, La Contessa di Amalfi and Jona by the lesser-known composer, Errico Petrella from Palermo, whose works were mainly premiered in Naples and Rome during the 1860s.
- 61 Neue Freie Presse, 15 September 1874, reports the first performance of Carlos Gomez’s new opera Sal (...)
- 62 Her performance in Halevy’s La Juive was the object of discussion in the correspondence between Ver (...)
- 63 Cf. http://www.lavoceantica.it/Cronologia/A%20-%20B%20-%20C/Africana.htm and http://www.lavoceantic (...)
- 64 Over nine evenings they performed Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammer (...)
38Her success led to further performances in the most famous theatres: Madrid and Rome in 1872 and Milan (Teatro La Scala) in 1874;61 Moscow and St Petersburg (the Royal Theatre) in 1875 for an entire “Italian stagione” season; Buenos Aires (Teatro Colon) in 1876; then back to Italy and on to Havana in 1877; Barcelona (Teatro Municipal) in 1879; Italy62 and Budapest (the Royal Theatre) in 1880; Berlin in 1881; Santiago de Chile (Teatro Municipal) and Montevideo (Teatro Solis) in 1882 and 1883.63 Her travels continued and in December 1890 she sang in Tenerife with the opera company of the excellent tenor, Andres Antón.64
- 65 Franjo Šanjek, « Strossmayerov europeizam» [Strossmayer’s Europeism], Ljetopis HAZU za 2000, Zagreb (...)
39In January 1873, she had a curious encounter with her benefactor, Strossmayer, in Rome. Vatican Secretary Monsignore Tizzani mentioned in his diary that Strossmayer was not very eager to meet Pope Pius IX preferring to go to the theatre instead. This angered the Pope but Tizzani felt Strossmayer could be forgiven since he wanted to hear his former protégée, Emma Wiziak (as her name was usually written outside Croatia).65
- 66 On the topic of the Cairo Opera House see: Adam Mestyan, “From Private Entertainment to Public Educ (...)
40In February 1874, she had the opportunity to take part in another lavish celebration, the wedding ceremony of the son of the Egyptian minister of finance and the viceroy’s adopted daughter. The Viennese press reported in detail on events in the harem and in publicly accessible locations. These included a theatre performance in the opera house, commissioned by the Khediv Ismail (a former diplomat in France and Italy) and built by Pietro Avoscani in 1869.66
41The Italian stagione in Moscow was reported by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, then reviewer for the Moscow newspaper, Russkiye Vedomosti:
- 67 Cf. http://wiki.tchaikovsky-research.net/wiki/The_Russian_and_Italian_Operas (20 May 2015).
This time the Italian enterprise presented a rather attractive face to the public. It introduced us to two very fine artists. I am referring here to Mme Wiziak, who made her début in the title-role of L’Africaine, and the tenor Señor Aramburo, who appeared in the role of Vasco da Gama. Mme Wiziak has a wonderful, sonorous, and powerful voice. She sings with great ardour and acts well, although her gesticulations are perhaps rather excessive. One can confidently predict that this debutante will have a great many successes one after the other here.67
- 68 In German newspapers, e.g. Agramer Zeitung, as well as Croatian ones, like Narodne novine, etc.
- 69 There is not much information on her husband, except in connection with a court trial, when two Ita (...)
42Next, she returned to Zagreb for a series of guest performances. In 1877, the Zagreb opera company had been active for seven years, under its director, composer and conductor Ivan Zajc. She sang Margarethe in Gounod’s Faust and Alice in Meyerbeer’s Robert der Teufel but also gave concerts of operatic arias. The press and the audiences were delighted to have her back in her hometown in April and May and a series of articles appeared about her worldwide renown.68 It seems that she then introduced her new family name –Wiziak de Nicolescu. According to Kassovitz-Cvijić, she had married a wealthy Romanian nobleman who was minister of trade and was leading quite a luxurious life in a Milanese palace.69
- 70 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 63.
43As time went by, however, Emma Wiziak evidently forgot Zagreb and Zagreb forgot her. When Narodne novine mentioned her in an article in 1882, journalists sniped that she was a great patriot, who never performed without a fee and even sang in Italian. Only two small notes appeared in 1913 to report her death in New York, where she had been teaching at the Music Conservatory.70
- 71 She appeared on the international stage under the family name Ternina. The Croatian press, especial (...)
- 72 The exhibition marked the 100th anniversary of her last performance there.
- 73 Cf. Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, Zagreb, Znanje, 1966; Nada Premrl (ed.), Milka Ternina at the Royal (...)
44In September 2006, an exhibition in London evoked a series of performances at Covent Garden with which soprano Milka T(e)rnina71 set the London stage alight.72 She was Croatia’s most popular singer, the subject of several books,73 her name listed in singers’ lexicons and accompanied by paeans of praise. The career of this miller’s daughter from a small village some 40 km south-east of Zagreb may be seen as a success story but it is not just her success that sees her included here.
- 74 Newly found letters indicate that the negotiations about performing in Bayreuth started much earlie (...)
45The first crucial event in her life was the early death of her father. Katarina (as she was baptised) was sent, at the age of 6, to live with her mother’s brother, Janko Jurković, a writer, school superintendent and government councillor in Zagreb. There, Milka, as the family called her, received the necessary education, including singing lessons with Ida Wimberger at the Musikverein. Aged 16 and still a pupil, she won the approval of the Zagreb audience at a benefit concert in 1879. The next year, she continued her singing education at the Vienna Conservatory with Joseph Gänsbacher and her stage début took place two years later at the Zagreb National Theatre, with a performance as Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, which was judged very successful and promising. In 1883, she completed her studies in Vienna and received a special award –a gold medal– and her contacts with the Zagreb stage continued. She appeared in Wagner’s Tannhäuser in Leipzig that year and she would go on to specialize in Wagnerian roles. Her future contracts and guest performances led her to Graz (Landestheater, 1884), Bremen (Stadttheater, 1886) and Munich (Royal Theatre, from 1889 onwards). The following year she was proclaimed a Royal Bavarian Kammersängerin, the highest honorary title in the German singing world. In addition, ten years of continual engagement elevated her to the highest rank among opera singers and subsequent concerts brought further progress: in the Queen’s Hall in London (1895); in the festivities for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in Moscow (1896); her first US performance and subsequent tour with the Damrosch Opera Company (1896); in London at Covent Garden (1898); in Bayreuth as Kundry in Wagner’s Parsifal (Festspielhaus, 1899);74 and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1900).
46An unpleasant bout of flu and inflammation of the facial nerve weakened her voice and she determined to leave the stage. She gave her last performance in Munich on 1 September 1906. She taught for a few years at the College of Music in New York until 1913 when she finally moved to Zagreb, giving only the occasional benefit performances until 1916.
47Two particular events marked her professional life: she premiered in Puccini’s Tosca at Covent Garden (1900), preparing the role with the author himself. Puccini repeatedly praised her as the best Tosca he had ever heard. She was the first to perform it at the Metropolitan Opera (1901), where she sang it several times, including in 1903 when Enrico Caruso took the role of Cavaradossi.
- 75 Citation from Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, p. 198.
48Then there was Wagner. Her interpretations were always judged to be individual, intelligent, cultivated, psychologically well-founded and justified and reviewers pointed to her new and refreshing interpretations of Wagner’s characters. This could, however, create conflict with opera directors, as was the case in Bayreuth. This was Wagner’s sanctuary and after his death in 1883 his widow Cosima, together with their son Siegfried, sought to establish Wagner’s ideas and original interpretations as canonical. Cosima decided who would perform which characters and how they would be presented. Ternina was eager to analyse the multi-layered and complex personality of Kundry but was finding it hard to grasp. She complained to her friend, Margareth Oldenburg, in her diary: “I am desperate. I do not have the real image of the whole issue and Cosima cannot help me. She tells me too little.”75 She resolved upon a different approach. She would seek the impulse within herself and it was this that produced the greatest effect. The character remained a challenge for Ternina even long after she withdrew from the stage.
- 76 The whole affair is described in detail by Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, p. 259-275.
49The unspoken conflict with Cosima ended only after five performances by Ternina in Parsifal. Somehow, it escalated in 1903, when Ternina was taking part in the work’s Metropolitan Opera premiere. Cosima tried to stop the performance as disrespectful of the composer’s last wishes, a sacrilège, an offence to the art and to Bayreuth, “an offence of the most holy creation in the Master’s oeuvre,”76 although this “performance-right” lasted for only twenty years after his death. The whole dispute almost led to the courts but New York director Heinrich Conried succeeded in staging the opera. Thereafter, however, a series of intrigues and plots against the performers appeared in the press.
- 77 The four surviving costumes from Tosca (2), Tristan and Isolde and Tannhäuser are considered to be (...)
50Further insight into Milka Ternina comes from her attitude to costumes. At the time, divas were obliged to take care of their costumes themselves and Ternina viewed them, like stage design, as an inseparable part of the role. For her London performances, she contacted British artist and costume designer Percy Anderson, who sketched a series of creations. Some of these were realized with the utmost care. They were the central exhibition objects77 in London in 2006, as a part of her legacy preserved in the City Museum of Zagreb.
- 78 Performers from the continental part of Croatia were taken into account, because at that time the D (...)
51The four singers portrayed were chosen from among a series of accomplished performers from Croatia,78 particularly sopranos, who built their career outside Croatia during the “long 19th century”. Others were Matilda Marlov, Matilda Mallinger-Schimmelpfennig, Matilda Lesić, Blaženka Krnic, Milena Šugh and so on. Given when she died, Ternina might be seen as separate from this circle but may be included since she withdrew from the stage before the “Great War.” The case studies present not only the particular and individual characteristics of the women’s careers but also highlight specific features of their times and milieus, ranging from political and cultural issues in general, their social and financial status, attitudes towards their private lives and personal relations to entirely musical concerns.
52The foundation of the Zagreb Musikverein School gave the majority of talented young people in the city and in Croatia at large the chance to learn music. Those, like Ilma de Murska, who could afford private lessons, were a minority, especially towards the end of the century. They were largely members of noble families, who tended not to continue their professional training. Talented pupils from more modest financial backgrounds might expect financial support for further schooling as well as the backing of individual patrons, as was the case with Irma Terputec and Ema Vizjak. A little earlier, Vatroslav Lisinski, composer of Croatia’s first national opera, had been in a similar situation to Vizjak and was sent to be educated in Prague in 1849.
- 79 This was a major “push factor” for leaving Zagreb, while the national issue and possible guest perf (...)
53The lack of higher music education in Zagreb79 meant talented musicians had to migrate to more musically developed centres, primarily Vienna or Prague. Those whose outstanding talents were detected during their training could count on more attractive offers than merely returning to Zagreb. They took the route of the existing network of theatres, joined opera companies with established itineraries or were given contracts with established ensembles. The foundation of the Croatian national opera in 1870 altered the situation to some extent so that some of these emigrants could at least occasionally return “home” and perform there. To a degree, it was expected of them, particularly if they had had domestic support at the start of their careers. Some did so –like Terputec and, to some extent, Vizjak. Others, like Ilma de Murska, never came back while others returned for good, like Ternina, and even honoured their home city with their legacy. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the opera touring system was well-established and adventurous spirits and individual entrepreneurs, especially women like Ilma de Murska, became rare.
54Many girls succeeded in finishing their education, even abroad, then bowed to prevailing expectations and returned home to become wives and mothers. Others wanted to pursue their careers despite these expectations (de Murska, for example), some complied (like Vizjak and, probably, Terputec) and others never married (like Ternina, who was proposed to by William Sturgis-Bigelow, a physician from an old Boston family) and chose to remain independent. The legal situation had changed, too, so that single women could manage their property without major difficulty and did not have to depend on husbands or tutors. At the same time, they were more and more respected as artists, so that the longstanding notion of the “actress” as a woman of easy virtue, which predominated at the beginning of the 19th century, eventually died out.
55The choice of these singers’ repertoires often depended not on their own preferences but on the expectations and plans of the company. That changed in the course of the century and a shift away from a mostly Italian repertoire (Bellini, Donizetti), with some French works (Meyerbeer, Auber) towards a German one (Wagner and more Wagner) occurred throughout Europe and was mirrored in the USA. At the same time, there were increasing demands to study the roles, especially Wagner’s characters. The dilemmas as to how to analyse and interpret an opera character, which so beset Ternina, were thus very real and present at the highest artistic levels. Audiences colluded in this process and were able to recognize it and respond accordingly.
- 80 Koraljka Kos, Dora Pejačević. Leben und Werk, Zagreb, MIC, 1987.
- 81 Ibid.
- 82 Interesting examples are the open and sincere diary by Dragojla Jarnević (published in Karlovac, Ma (...)
56The four female lives set out here reflect the gender issue in the 19th century. Other outstanding Croatian female artists, like the patriotic writer and pedagogue Dragojla Jarnević (1812-1875), the painter Slava Raškaj (1877-1906), the aristocrat-composer and violinist Dora Pejačević (1885-1923), or the writer who was Croatia’s first professional journalist, Marija Jurić Zagorka (1873-1957), shared their fate. While the four opera singers were in a privileged position as real stars in an international context so that their eccentricities and self-reliance encountered a degree of benevolence (as did Dora Pejačević),80 their legal position was rarely seen as anything other than that of an ordinary woman. Their talent did not save them from pressures to have a family or give up public activity nor from their persistence in their careers being deemed unnatural. Their private strivings and emotions were mostly kept hidden or remarked upon only cautiously in rare letters,81 diaries,82 –or the reminiscences of their closest friends. It seems that their high earning potential (unlike the above-mentioned writers who tended to remain poor), exaggerated eccentricities or membership of aristocratic circles (Vizjak, Pejačević) conferred a degree of immunity against belittling.
57Nevertheless, the social position of women in Croatia underwent only slight improvements and changes in the course of the nineteenth century. This was due in part to the fin-de-siècle internationalization of some intellectual circles. Only the cataclysm of the “Great War” brought about real change (after 1920 within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) although even then they secured the vote far later than most of their female contemporaries in Europe –in only 1945.
1 “The sweet sound of her voice is silenced now for good.”
2 Itinerant theatre companies appear in the documentation from the 16th century onwards while church plays with music began in the Middle Ages. Buildings were first adapted to serve as theatre halls from the beginning of the 17th century (for example, in Hvar, where the former arsenal was transformed into a theatre auditorium in 1612). The first purpose-built theatres were erected only in the second half of the 18th century (in Rijeka: 1765; in Zadar: 1783, etc.).
3 The adaptation of the existing halls into theatres starts only in the second half of the 18th century as was the case, for example, of the hall in the General Command quarters of the fortress in the town of Osijek, the Armeninstitut in Varaždin and the palace of the Pejačević and Kulmer noblemen in Zagreb. The first purpose-built theatre building in the continental part of Croatia was erected by the Count Prandau in 1809 on his estate in Valpovo, while in Zagreb, the merchant Kristofor Stanković built the first theatre in 1834.
4 Especially intensive commitment to this issue was shown by the Börnstein brothers: Heinrich published a manifesto of sorts to encourage the foundation of an “Illyrian theatre”. For more on this topic, see: Vjera Katalinić, “Paralelni svjetovi ili dvostruki identitet? Strane operne družine i nacionalna glazbena nastojanja u Zagrebu u prvoj polovici 19. st. [Parallel Worlds or Double Identity? Foreign Opera Companies and National Strivings in Zagreb in the First Half of the 19th Century],” in Harry White, Ivano Cavallini (eds.), Musicologie sans frontières. Essays in Honour of Stanislav Tuksar, Zagreb, HMD, 2010, p. 234-240.
5 Mirjana Gross, Počeci moderne Hrvatske. Neoapsolutizam u civilnoj Hrvatskoj I Slavoniji 1850-1860. [The Beginnings of Modern Croatia. Neo-absolutism in Civil Croatia and Slavonia 1850-1860], Zagreb, Globus, Centar za povijesne znanosti Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Odjel za hrvatsku povijest, 1985, p. 465.
6 Many elements of her biography were revealed in an article by Croatian musicologist Franjo Ksaver Kuhač: “Dvie glasovite hrvatske operne pjevačice – Murska Ilma (Ema)” [Two famous Croatian opera singers – Murska Ilma (Ema)], Prosvjeta, (1905) N° 11, 14, 15, 16, 17. There are entries about her in opera lexicons dating from the late 1880s and her name occurred quite regularly in the opera reviews and announcements in the nineteenth-century press. Much of the information in these entries were collected by Barbieri in Hrvatski operni pjevači [Croatian Opera Singers], Zagreb: Nakladni zavod Matice hrvatske, 1996, p. 36-50, and are supplemented here with some new information.
7 Linzer Tagespost (1 July 1888, p. 2), in the obituary for Jakob Eder (a Hungarian violinist, born 1821, who inherited the opera house from Joseph Kroll by marrying his daughter), who died in 1888, mentions: “Hier sang zum erstenmale Ilma di Murska.”
8 Her last guest performance at the Viennese Hofoper, as Ophelia in Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas, was announced on 10 August 1873 (Wiener Weltaustellungs-Zeitung, 10 August 1873, “Theater- und Musiknachrichten”).
9 On 21 February 1869, p. 4. Further, in connection with the opera Das Landhaus in Meudon by the local composer Moritz Mäßmayer, he writes that “die Gesänge der ‘Nichte’ sind für Fräulein v. Murska auf dem Coloratur-Faulenzer geschrieben” (p. 5).
10 Blätter für Musik, Theater und Kunst, 8 March 1867, p. 3: the announcement of “Erstes historisches Concert” on 14 March 1867 in the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna, with pieces belonging to “Die Anfänge der Oper: in Italien, Deutschland und Frankreich.” A notice on that concert also appeared in The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 6, 1867, N° 25, p. 396.
11 Mapleson occasionally united forces with British opera manager Frederic Gye.
12 She performed in at least fifteen operas in the 1865-1870 period.
13 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 5, Aug. 9, 1866, N° 16, p. 253. From their regular reports, the list of her performances in 1868-1869 with Mapleson and Gye (as listed in Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 49) should be extended to 1865-1867, with Rossi’s Crispino e la Comare, Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail, etc.
14 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 5, 1866, N° 8, p. 172.
15 Barbieri lists her forty-two appearances in twelve operas by Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Thomas, Wagner and von Flotow in 1864, 1868, 1874 and 1880 (Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 48).
16 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 6, 1867, N° 21, p. 332.
17 The most recent edition of Ludwig Eisenberg’s Grosses biographisches Lexikon der deutschen Bühne im 19. Jahrhundert, Books for Libraries Press, 1968.
18 Ibid., p. 87.
19 “Man berichtet aus Olmütz: ‘Die Unterhandlungen mit der Coloratursängerin Frl. Ilma v. Murska, welche bisher an der Forderung des hohen Honorars von vierhundert Gulden für einen Abend und der Vergütung der Reisekosten für zwei Personen scheiterten, dürften hoffentlich in den nächsten Tagen zu einem günstigen Abschlusse kommen, und so den Olmützern das Vergnügen zu Theil werden, die Sängerin an zwei Abenden zu hören,” Wiener Kirchenzeitung für Glauben, Wissen, Freiheit und Gesetz, Wien, 1866, p. 152.
20 The American Art Journal (1866-1867), vol. 7, 1867, N° 8, p. 124-125.
21 Ludwig Eisenberg’s Grosses biographisches Lexikon, p. 706.
22 “Die gegen Fräulein v. Murska den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen gemäß eröffnete Untersuchung nach der von ihr nachgesuchten Konkurs-Eröffnung dürfte, wie die ‘Oesterr. Korr.’ Meldet, in diesem Augenblicke durch einen Einstellungsbeschluß wegen mangelnden Thatbestandes ihr Ende erreicht haben,” Die Debatte, 9 April 1868, p. 3.
23 “Große Sensation erregte die Künstlerin anfangs der 70er Jahre mit ihren Glanzrollen ‚Lucia’, ‘Königin der Nacht‘, ‚Elvira‘ (Don Juan), ‚Amina‘ (Nachtwandlerin) etc. und wurde 1874 unter den glänzendsten Bedingungen für Amerika verpflichtet; dort dehnte sie ihre Gastspielreisen bis nach St. Francisco aus und hat seit dieser Zeit die alte Welt nicht mehr betreten,” Ludwig Eisenberg’s Grosses biographisches Lexikon, p. 706.
24 William Brooks, “Maretzek, Max,” in: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 15, London, McMillan & Co., 2002, p. 848.
25 Other performers were: M. Vizzani, M. Rosi-Galli, Miss Leidecker, Mme. Feretti, M. Locatelli.
26 Also performing were: M. Mari, Francesca Natali Testa, Enrico Tamberlik, M. Rosi-Galli, Miss Leidecker, M. Richardt and M. Locatelli. Cf. Opera in Philadelphia. Performance chronology 1850-1874. Researched by John Curtis 1867-1927; ed. by F. Hamilton, 2011; http://FrankHamilton.org, (20 May 2015), p. 192-193.
27 New York Clipper, 7 November 1873.
28 Appleton’s Journal mentions Ilma de Murska singing in the Maretzek company in 1874 and Pauline Lucca in the German opera.
29 “[…] In Havannah, wo bekanntlich die besten Cigarren wachsen und die Spanier sich mit den Eingebornen von Zeit zu Zeit in mörderische Gespräche einlassen, leben anjetzo zwei schöne österreichische Nachtigallen, benamset Frau Pauline Lucca und Frau Ilma v. Murska, oder wie sich letztere lieber hört, Frl. Ilma v. Murska. Als der große Opern- und Primadonnenkrach in New York über Maretzek’s Gesellschaft heringebrochen, gingen die obengenannten Damen als weibliche Impresaris nach Cuba und schleppten auf dem eigens gemietheten Steamer die ganze Operncompagnie mit. Anfangs ging die Geschichte gut, doch nach einigen Wochen trat in der Geschichte ein großer Umschwung ein. Verschiedene heiklige Geschichten, die sich der Oeffentlichkeit entziehen und von dem heißen Blute jener Mischlingsrace Zeugniß geben, schieden die Anhänger der Oper in zwei Theile, eine Partie schwärmte für die blonde Croatin, die andere für die schwarzäugige Wienerin…” It gives a description of both singers, with that of Ilma de Murska highly characteristic: “Von Frl. Ilma, der commis voyageur Sängerin, wollen wir eigentlich ganz absehen, sie ist eine Art Zigeunerin unter den Sängerinen und hat, dank ihrer nervösen Constitution, nirgends Rast und Ruh‘! Welch ein glänzendes langjähriges Engagement bot ihr unsere Hofbühne – sie wies es zurück, aber heute in Pest, morgen in Edinburgh, übermorgen in Petersburg – und die andere Woche in Peking gastiren, wäre, wenn es anginge, ihre höchste Wonne! Jetzt hat sie ebenfalls die bittersten Erfahrungen gemacht.” Wiener Salonblatt, 1 March 1874, p. 9.
30 “Ilma von Murska’s Erlebnisse in Australien schildert eine amerikanische Korrespondenz wie folgt: ‘Die auch in Oesterreich, und namentlich in Wien bekannte und beliebte Sängerin Ilma v. Murska hat zwar in Australien glänzende Geschäfte gemacht, aber auch bittere Erfahrungen einsammeln müssen. Daß man sie zuerst zu einer ziemlich bedeutenden Geldstrafe verurtheilte, weil sie ein Lied in einem Konzerte sang, auf welches eine Musikalien-Handlung in Sidney das ‚Copy-Right‘ besaß, war noch am leichtesten zu verschmerzen, aber sie heiratete einen Australier und damit ging ihr Elend an. Der neue Gatte hieß Alfred Anderson; es stellte sich bald heraus, daß derselbe krank und hinfällig war, aber trotzdem verstand er es vortrefflich, das Vermögen der Sängerin mit vollen Händen zum Fenster hinauszuwerfen. Endlich erkrankte er ernstlich, ließ sich in das Haus seiner Eltern in Melbourne bringen, wo ihn seine Gattin nur selten sehen durfte. Schließlich starb er, machte aber ein Testament, in welchem er das Hab und Gut der Sängerin ganz ungenirt seinen Eltern vermachte. Die Sache wird jetzt vor die Gerichte in Melbourne kommen,” Neuigkeits Welt Blatt, 9 June 1876, p. 9. She had probably divorced her first husband in Vienna since he later had no right to collect her ashes.
31 Morgen-Post, 6 August 1876, p. 5.
32 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 42, 48.
33 Emanuel Rubin: “Jeanette Meyers Thurber and the National Conservatory of Music,” American Music, 8/3, 1990, p. 295.
34 Ibid., p. 299.
35 As was stated in Zagreb newspaper Narodne novine on 24 January 1889.
36 The citation in the title is taken from the final verses carved on the grave of Ilma de Murska: “Verstummt der süßen Stimme Schall: Zu Asche geworden die Nachtigall.” Cf. Marija Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 42.
37 Agramer Zeitung, 28 July 1856, p. 2.
38 Snježana Miklaušić-Ćeran: Glazbeni život Zagreba u 19. stoljeću u svjetlu koncertnih programa sačuvanih u Arhivu Hrvatskoga glazbenog zavoda [The Musical Life in Zagreb in the 19th Century in the Light of Concert Programmes Held in the Archives of the Croatian Music Institute], Zagreb, HMD, 2001, p. 122.
39 The Viennese press, like Die Presse, Fremden-Blatt, Das Vaterland and Wiener Zeitung regularly published announcements for theatre performances. So, in 1866, she sang Proch’s Variations in a sort of accademia with short musical sketches and arias (28, 29 and 30 January 1866) and a small role in Barbieri’s Ein Abenteuer auf Vorposten (Die Presse, 10 February 1866).
40 Cf the article “Iz prošlih dana” in the journal Glasonoša, 1907, N° 20; according to Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 66.
41 “[…] mit Lust und Liebe an seine Aufabe geht, aber noch sehr in den Anfängen steckt und mit der coloratura im Hader liegt,” Wiener Zeitung, 20 February 1866, p. 6.
42 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 66.
43 Prager Abendblatt, 12 May 1868, p. 2: announcements, where she is presented as a guest singer from “Stadttheater zu Hamburg.”
44 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 66.
45 “Das Herrscherpaar fährt in einem zweispännigen Wagen von Bahnhof in die Residenz. […] Aus kompetenter Quelle kommt uns die Nachricht zu, daß der Pianist Herr Julius Epstein das Hofkammerkonzert nicht arrangirt, sondern nur lediglich darin mitwirkt; außerdem werden bei demselben mitwirken: Fräulein Terputec-Terrée, die Herren: Kunwald, Moor, Schwarz, Ertl, Simm, Eisenhut.” Die Debatte, 10 March 1869, p. 4, and 13 March 1869, p. 3; almost the same reports –all taken from Agramer Zeitung– were published in Neue Freie Presse, Neues Fremden-Blatt, etc.
46 For this and the dignitaries’ other festive receptions in Zagreb, see the article: Vjera Katalinić, “Banus und/oder König? Die Feste zu Ehren der Hoheiten in Zagreb in den zweiten Hälfte der 19. Jahrhunderts”, in Martin Eybl, Stefan Jena, Andreas Vejvar (eds.), Feste. Theophil Antonicek zum 70. Geburtstag, Tutzing, Hans Schneider, 2010, p. 223-236.
47 The data has been preserved in libretti, accompanying the performances of Donizetti’s Die Tochter des Regiments on 17 May 1874, when Irma von Terée sang the Variations by Proch (Leipziger Theaterzettl, N° 128) and Flotow’s Martha on 10 May 1874, when Fräulein von Terée performed Lady Harriet Durham.
48 Neue Freie Presse 15 November 1874, p. 7.
49 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 67.
50 Allegedly, another Croatian singer Teray did indeed die at that time in Baden near Vienna and several newspapers made the same mistake.
51 “Frau Irma Edle von Terputecz-Terée ist aus Gmunden zum Winteraufenthalte nach Wien zurückgekehrt,” Wiener Salonblatt, 1 October 1899, p. 9.
52 Her daughter sent a telegram that was published in Zagreb newspaper Narodne novine, N° 104, on 6 May 1907.
53 “Unter allen Mitwirkenden (Schüllern des Conservatoriums) excellirte am Meisten eine Elevin der Opernschule, Frl. Emma Vizjak, eine eifrige Kroatin aus Agram. Noch ganz jugendlich, macht sie bereits einen eminenten Eindruck, sowohl durch ihre klangreiche, sympathische und weiche Stimme, als auch durch die Grazie und Lebendigkeit ihrer äußeren Erscheinung; auch ist sie in der künstlerischen Ausbildung so weit vorgeschritten, daß wir ihr kühn die brillantesten Erfolge auf der Opernlaufbahn in Aussicht stellen können. Ausgezeichnet durch natürliche Anmuth und eine besondere Zartheit des Gefühls, weiß sie ihrem Vortrag Leben und Wärme zu inspiriren, auch dann, wenn ihr die Composition so fremdartig wäre, wie die undankbare Arie aus den „Oriazi e Curiazi“ von Cimarosa, welche sie Sonntag gesungen. Die hoffnungsvolle Sängerin ist durch zweimaligen Hervorruf ausgezeichnet worden,” Agramer Zeitung, 16 September 1864, p. 2.
54 Snježana Miklaušić-Ćeran lists the repertoire in: Glazbeni život Zagreba u 19. stoljeću, p. 294-295.
55 Agramer Zeitung, 22 August 1864, p. 2.
56 “Fräulein Emma Vizjak, aus Prag zurückgekehrt, wo sie durch freiwillige Beiträge der hochherzigen kroatisch-slavonischen Patrioten unterstützt, durch 3 Jahre am dortigen Conservatorium die Tonkunst erlernte, hat bei den am 19. und 22. August l. J. zur Verherrlichung der Feierlichkeiten der ersten Ausstellung des dreieinigen Königreiches veranstalteten Concerten des National Landes-Musik Institutes bewiesen, daß sie eine angenehme, reine, klangvolle und sehr umfangreiche Stimme besitzt, daß sie eine bedeutende Stufe der Tonkunst erreicht und eine glänzende Zukunft zu hoffen berechtigt ist. Der Same, den sie durch ihr Talent und ihren Fleiß, ihre Wohlthäter aber durch die für ihre Erhaltung in Prag gespendeten Geldsummen gesäet, hat somit die besten Früchte getragen. Man muß nun dahin wirken, daß diese Früchte der kroatischen Tonkunst auch für die Zukunft gewahrt und gegen Verderbniß gesichert werden, was unvermeidlich wäre, wenn sich diese 17-jährige Sängerin schon jetzt der Bühne widmen würde, wo sie sich im Gegentheile in der Tonkunst vervollständigen, und durch die Entfaltung ihrer körperlichen Kräfte ihre zarte Stimme zu kräftigen trachten muß. Die gefertigte Direction des National-Landes-Musik-Institutes betrachtet diese kroatische Sängerin als ein Kleinod der kroatisch-slavonischen Nation, wünscht es ihr für die Zukunft zu erhalten, hiedurch die Bildung einer kroatischen Oper mit sicherzustellen. Aus diesen Gründen hat die gefertigte Direction beschlossen, das Fräulein Emma Vizjak zur Vervollständigung ihrer Bildung in der Tonkunst auf ein Jahr nach Mailand zu senden, und die betreffenden Kosten, welche um so größer sein werden, als dort die Lebensbedürfnisse therer sind und sie nicht am Conservatorium unentgeltlich studieren, sondern die berühmtesten Meister entsprechend zu honoriren haben wird, durch freiwillige Beiträge wie bisher zu decken, und deren Einsammlung und Verwaltung dem Secretär des kön. Statthaltereirathes, Hrn. Johann Vardian, wie bisher gegen Rechnunglegung anzuvertrauen. Die Hochherzigen kroatisch-slavonischen Patrioten werden daher inständigst gebeten, zu dem besagten Zwecke freiwillige Geldbeiträge widmen und solche dem genannten Herrn Einsammler zusenden zu wollen.” That “Aufruf” was repeated in Agramer Zeitung on 7 and 9 September 1846.
57 “[…] von Seite des zahlreich versammelten Publicums stürmischen Applaus erhielt, der sich wiederholte, als sie mit Bravour und höchster Intelligenz die Juvellen-Arie aus der Oper: Faust sang.”, Agramer Zeitung, 19 February 1866, p. 3.
58 Fremden-Blatt, 31 October 1866, p. 6.
59 Ricordi published a libretto containing the relevant information; she performed with another Prague student of Gordigiani’s –Teresa Stoltz.
61 Neue Freie Presse, 15 September 1874, reports the first performance of Carlos Gomez’s new opera Salvator Rosa, which –despite its good performers– did not impress the audience.
62 Her performance in Halevy’s La Juive was the object of discussion in the correspondence between Verdi and his publisher Ricordi. Cf. Carteggio Verdi-Ricordi 1880-1881, Parma, Istituto di studi Verdiani, 1988, p. 79.
64 Over nine evenings they performed Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Faust, and Aida. Cf. Francisco Martínez Viera, Anales del Teatro en Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Imprenta Editora Catòlica, 1968, p. 154.
65 Franjo Šanjek, « Strossmayerov europeizam» [Strossmayer’s Europeism], Ljetopis HAZU za 2000, Zagreb, HAZU, 2001, p. 74-84; p. 81.
66 On the topic of the Cairo Opera House see: Adam Mestyan, “From Private Entertainment to Public Education? Opera in the late Ottoman Empire (1805-1914). An Introduction,” in Sven Oliver Müller, Philipp Ther, Jutta Toelle, Gesa zur Nieden (eds.), Die Oper im Wandel der Gesellschaft, Oldenbourg, Böhlau, p. 243-276; p. 270-271.
67 Cf. http://wiki.tchaikovsky-research.net/wiki/The_Russian_and_Italian_Operas (20 May 2015).
68 In German newspapers, e.g. Agramer Zeitung, as well as Croatian ones, like Narodne novine, etc.
69 There is not much information on her husband, except in connection with a court trial, when two Italian men stole their furniture and jewellery. Cf. “Der Prozeß einer Opernsängerin,” Neuigkeits Welt Blatt, 6 March 1884, p. 25.
70 Barbieri, Hrvatski operni pjevači, p. 63.
71 She appeared on the international stage under the family name Ternina. The Croatian press, especially more latterly, often writes this as Trnina, considering the variant Ternina linguistically archaic.
72 The exhibition marked the 100th anniversary of her last performance there.
73 Cf. Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, Zagreb, Znanje, 1966; Nada Premrl (ed.), Milka Ternina at the Royal Opera House, catalogue of the exhibition, Zagreb, City Museum of Zagreb, 2006; Zdenka Weber (ed.), Milka Trnina, Križ, Općina Križ, 2013 –a collection of texts on the occasion of her 150th anniversary.
74 Newly found letters indicate that the negotiations about performing in Bayreuth started much earlier, in 1892 but were postponed for various reasons. Cf. Marija Barbieri, Zdenka Weber, “Kundry u Bayreuthu [Kundry in Bayreuth],” in Z. Weber (ed.), Milka Trnina, p. 100-102.
75 Citation from Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, p. 198.
76 The whole affair is described in detail by Mato Grković, Milka Trnina, p. 259-275.
77 The four surviving costumes from Tosca (2), Tristan and Isolde and Tannhäuser are considered to be among the finest examples of theatrical design and artisanship from the early 20th century.
78 Performers from the continental part of Croatia were taken into account, because at that time the Dalmatian coast had a different political status, being directly subject to the Austrian Crown.
79 This was a major “push factor” for leaving Zagreb, while the national issue and possible guest performances in Zagreb were a significant “pull factor” only for those with stronger national feelings.
80 Koraljka Kos, Dora Pejačević. Leben und Werk, Zagreb, MIC, 1987.
82 Interesting examples are the open and sincere diary by Dragojla Jarnević (published in Karlovac, Matica hrvatska, 2000) and Milka Ternina’s more restrained one. The latter is in manuscript only as she placed an embargo on its publication.Haut de page
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Vjera Katalinić, « “Verstummt der süssen Stimme Schall”: the Destiny of Four Croatian Singers in the “Long 19th Century” », Diasporas, 26 | 2015, 153-169.
Vjera Katalinić, « “Verstummt der süssen Stimme Schall”: the Destiny of Four Croatian Singers in the “Long 19th Century” », Diasporas [En ligne], 26 | 2015, mis en ligne le 15 avril 2016, consulté le 30 avril 2017. URL : http://diasporas.revues.org/416 ; DOI : 10.4000/diasporas.416Haut de page
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