Maria Jeritza (6 October 1887 – 10 July 1982) was a Czech soprano singer, long associated with the Vienna State Opera (1912–1935) and the Metropolitan Opera (1921–1932 and 1951). Her rapid rise to fame, beauty and personality earned her the nickname "The Moravian Thunderbolt".
6 October 1887
|Died||10 July 1982 (aged 94)|
Jeritza was born in Brno in 1887 as Mitzi Jedlicka or Marie Jedličková. In 1910, she made her debut as Elsa, in Wagner's Lohengrin, at Olomouc. The Emperor Franz Josef heard her and immediately ordered that she be offered a contract at the Imperial Hofoper, Vienna. She created the roles of Blanchefleur in Kienzl's opera Der Kuhreigen (1911), Ariadne in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (1912), the Empress in his Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), and Hariette/Juliette in Korngold's Die tote Stadt (Hamburg, 1920), though later became famous for her leading role of Marietta/Marie in the same opera in its January 1921 Vienna premiere, which was also the role in which she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera on 19 November 1921.
On 16 November 1926, she starred in the title role of Puccini's Turandot in its North American premiere at the Metropolitan, where she also created the title or leading soprano roles in Janáček's Jenůfa (1924), Wolf-Ferrari's I gioielli della Madonna (1925), Korngold's Violanta (1927), Richard Strauss's Die Ägyptische Helena (1928), and Suppé's Boccaccio (1931) and Donna Juanita (1932). She was as popular at the Metropolitan as in Vienna, especially as Tosca, Carmen and Massenet's Thaïs. She appeared in an early sound film Grossfürstin Alexandra for which Franz Lehár wrote the song 'Du und ich sind für einander bestimmt'.
After a two-year marriage to a man named Wiener, she married an Austrian Baron, Friedrich Leopold Salvator Freiherr Popper von Podhragy (1886-1953). She married her third husband in 1935, Hollywood mogul Winfield R. Sheehan, who died in 1945. In 1948 she married New Jersey businessman Irving Seery and moved to a mansion in the Forest Hill neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, where she lived until her death in 1982, at the age of 94. She died in Orange, New Jersey, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey. Richard Strauss dedicated his final song Malven to her, but she would not allow the manuscript to be seen by anyone during her lifetime. After her death, the Strauss family allowed it to be performed in public for the first time by Kiri te Kanawa, who has also recorded it.
Jeritza made a number of 78-rpm recordings which testify to the high quality of her voice. Many of these recordings have been released on CD.