Erma Zarska (June 9, 1889 – March 30, 1971), also seen as Erma Zareska, Heřmy Žárskej or Heřma Žárská, was a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera in the 1915–1916 season. She also sang with the Prague National Theatre and the Slovak National Theatre.

Erma Zarska
A young woman, seated on a bed and smiling, wearing a white dress and black heeled shoes.
Erma Zarska, from the Bain News Service collection, Library of Congress.
Hermina Maria Žárská

June 9, 1889
Olomouc, Moravia
DiedMarch 30, 1971
Other namesHeřmy Žárskej, Erma Zareska, Herma Žárská
OccupationOpera singer

Early lifeEdit

Hermína Maria Žárská was born in Olomouc, the daughter of Ignác Žárský, a blacksmith and carriage builder.[1] She trained as a singer in Prague and Berlin.[2]


Zarska sang at the Prague National Theatre as a young woman,[3][4] in Hubička, Dalibor, and The Bartered Bride, all operas by Smetana.[2] She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York in November 1915;[5][6] however, "a severe cold" affected her voice, and it failed during her debut performance in Lohengrin. "At the end she was singing almost in a whisper," according to the New York Times reviewer.[7] Emmy Destinn returned to the Met to take over the role while Zarska recovered.[8]

Zarska also sang the role of Santuzza in the Met's production of Cavalleria Rusticana in February 1916, with Sophie Breslau singing another part.[9][10] During the run of Rusticana, she had a further embarrassment on stage, when her daring gown's shoulder strap slipped and "the audience saw a great deal of Erma", according to reports.[11] She returned to Europe at the end of that season, when her contract was not renewed.[12]

She made recordings for Columbia in 1916.[13][14] She was a soloist with the Slovak National Theatre in the 1921–1922 season.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Zarska died in Prague in 1971, aged 80 years.[2]


  1. ^ "Ignác Žárský – Historické kočáry" (in Czech). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  2. ^ a b c d "Heřma Žárska, dramatická sopranistka s farebným sopránom a osobným čarom". Opera Slovakia (in Slovak). 2019-06-09. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  3. ^ "Two Opera Singers Arrive". The New York Times. 1915-10-18. p. 9. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  4. ^ "Name Like Roll of Drum". The Wilkes-Barre Record. 1915-11-12. p. 7. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  5. ^ "Season of Grand Opera Opens at the Metropolitan". The Theatre. 22: 284–285. December 1915.
  6. ^ "New Members of the Metropolitan Opera". Opera Magazine. 2: 15. November 1915.
  7. ^ "New Singer's Voice Fails at her Debut". The New York Times. 1915-11-27. p. 15. Retrieved 2020-05-12 – via
  8. ^ "Metropolitan Opera House". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 1915-12-21. p. 6. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  9. ^ Fitzgerald, Gerald (2016-06-11). Annals of the Metropolitan Opera: The Complete Chronicle of Performances and Artists. Springer. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-349-11976-9.
  10. ^ "Erma Zarska Reappears". The New York Times. 1916-02-03. p. 7. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  11. ^ "Her Suspender Slipped". The Washington Herald. 1916-02-15. p. 3. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  12. ^ "More French Song in Coming Opera". The Sun. 1916-05-23. p. 9. Retrieved 2020-05-13 – via
  13. ^ Downes, Olin (1918). The Lure of Music: Depicting the Human Side of Great Composers, with Stories of Their Inspired Creations. Harper & Brothers. p. 300. ISBN 9780897654326.
  14. ^ "Record Bulletins for September 1916" (PDF). The Talking Machine World. 12: 100. August 15, 1916.