Jurjevskaya, Zinaida

Russian soprano, 1896 (?) - 1925

 

Biographical notes:

The career of this beautiful singer lasted only three years, but during that time she established herself as a front-ranking artist. We know very little of her early life, even the date of her birth is not certain. She and her family left Russia after the revolution in 1917 and came to Berlin where she began  with vocal studies. She immediately showed remarkable talent. In 1922 she made her debut at the Berlin Staatsoper in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerl (in German). She succeeded in the role of Janacek’s Jenufa in the first German performance. The cast included Margarete Arndt-Ober , Fritz Soot, Karl Jöken, Ida von Scheele-Müller, Else Knepel and Ernst Osterkamp. The Berlin-premiere of Jenufa was acclaimed with great enthusiasm by both public and press and established the worldwide success of Janacek’s opera which had had its world première eight years earlier at the National Theatre in Prague. Her roles also included Sophie, the Countess and Fiordiligi. She made highly successful guest appearances in Paris (Sophie) and Amsterdam. She also introduced some of Prokoviev’s songs. It would appear that she was on the way of making a great career when in the summer of 1925, on a visit to Andermatt in Switzerland, she took poison before throwing herself into a mountain river and drowned.

 

In the title role of Janacek’s “Jenufa”, Berlin State Opera, March 1924

 

Zinaida Jurjewskaya surrounded by the ensemble of “Jenufa”, conductor was Erich Kleiber (in the middle)

 

Recordings:

Recital (Arias from Iphigenie auf Tauris, Die Zauberflöte, Jenufa, La Bohème and Madame Butterfly/+ Aline Sanden)

Preiser - LV

Von der Königlichen Hofoper zur Staatsoper ‘Unter den Linden’

Preiser

Janacek - Jenufa (Vogel 1952/Jelinkova, Krasova, Musilova, Blachut, Zidek. Bonus: Zinaida Jurjevskya sings Jenufa/Kleiber 1924)

Voce della Luna

Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 2

CD-ROM

Comment:

Hers is a warm soprano voice with an extremely pure middle and upper register. All recordings show her as a wonderfully inspired artist. Iphigenie’s aria O du, die mir einst Hilfe gab is not sung in a “classical” style, but it is a sad and deeply moving interpretation. So is her version of Pamina’s Ach, ich fühls. Her most important recording is Jenufa’s arias. It is above all a musical performance, not the kind of “Sprechgesang” which is a common practise in today’s Janacek performances.

Her complete recordings:

Homocord (1923):

- Ariette in Russian (Title role in Snegurochka / Rimsky-Korsakov)

- Atcevo eta prezhde ne znala in Russian (Title role in Iolanta / Tchaikovsky)

- Sì, mi chiamano Mimì in Italian (Mimì in La Bohème / Puccini)

- Un bel dì, vedremo in Italian ( Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly / Puccini)

Parlophon (1924):

- O du, die mir einst Hilfe gab in German (Title role in Iphigenie auf Tauris / Gluck)

- Ach ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden in German (Pamina in Die Zauberflöte / Mozart)

- Mutter, mir ist ist mein Kopf so schwer in German (Title role in Jenufa / Janacek, part 1)

- Gegrüsst seist du, Maria, Mutter voller Gnaden in German (Title role in Jenufa / Janacek, part 2)

Grammophon (1925):

 O du, die mir einst Hilfe gab in German (Title role in Iphignenie auf Tauris / Gluck)

- Man nennt mich jetzt Mimì in German (Mimì in La Bohème / Puccini)