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Emmy DESTINN

(*26.2.1878, Prague - ✝28.1.1930, České Budějovice)

Czech opera singer - dramatic soprano

By his own name Emilie Paulina Věnceslava Kittlová.

She was the dauther of the art subscriber Emanuel Kittl (1844-1911). From her childhood, she obtained very good musical education and played many instruments. From 1892 to 1896, she was educated by the couple of Thomas Löwe and Marie Destinn-Löwe (*1840 in Lvov, †1921 in Prague) and adopted her name as a pseudonym. She studied dramatic with Otilie Sklenářová-Malá. In 1897, she was refused at the Prague National Theatre, after in Dresden and Berlin (Theater des Westens). In 1898, she was engaged by Karl Muck to the Berlin Court Opera where she debuted in the role of Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana. In 1908, she received the title of Prussian Chamber Singer [Preussische Kammersängerin]. She performed approximately 40 operas in Berlin. Between 1901-1902, she performed the role of Senta in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman in Bayreuth on the recommendation of Karl Muck. She was a guest singer at the Prague National Theatre and in 1913 sang Smetana's Libusse for first time.

In 1908, she was pronounced an honorary member of the National Theatre. In 1904, she made her debut in Covent Garden in London as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Here, she performed a total of 11 seasons, among others in the London's premiere of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. From 1908 to 1916 she worked at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she debuted as Verdi's Aida. Here, she sang under the baton of Artur Toscanini with Enrico Caruso (1910).

She strived to the staging of Czech operas in America, but was only successful in Smetana's The Bartered Bride in 1909 (conducted by G. Mahler). She was a guest vocalist in Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities. She has almost 70 roles in her repertoire. In 1916, after returning home, she was suspected of collaborating with the anti-Austrian revolt and was interned in the castle Stráž nad Nežárkou. After 1918, she succeeded in conducting three American tours. She later performed primarily concerts (in 1918–1925 in Pilsen, Brno, Ostrava, Bratislava, and Olomouc). She taught irregularly from 1913 and never acquired a permanent teaching position at the Prague Conservatory. She is one of the must famous vocalists of her time, not only due to the quality of her voice but also because of her personality. She was also active in the field of literature, and wrote several poems or novels.

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