Much-loved soprano Sena Jurinac has died
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Croation-Austrian soprano Sena Jurinac has died in Germany; she was 90.
After study at the Zagreb Academy of Music she made her debut in the city as Mimì and soon moved onto roles such as the Figaro Countess, Freia and created the role of Isabella in Werner Egk's Columbus (1942). In 1944 she joined the Vienna State Opera company and also changed her name from Srebrenka to Sena, apparently at the suggestion of Karl Böhm's secretary. War delayed her State Opera debut and she finally appeared there in 1946 as Cherubino.
She was first heard in London in 1946 (as Dorabella) when the Vienna State Opera company toured, and sang at the Salzburg Festival the following year. During the 1950s she was a frequent visitor to England appearing both at Covent Garden and at Glyndebourne (where she sang many of the principal Mozart roles). Her Countess and Ilia were both recorded by EMI; Figaro under Gui and Idomeneo under Fritz Busch.
Jurinac's voice hovered between soprano and mezzo, and she sang roles written for both voice-types, so she performed the three roles in Der Rosenkavalier (her portrayal of Octavian is captured on film in the Paul Czinner/Karajan film), as well as the Composer (Ariadne), both Marzelline and Leonore (in Fidelio – a wonderful live recording under Klemperer has been issued on Testament) as well as Marie (Wozzeck), Pamina, Tosca, Marina and Fyodor (Boris Godunov).
In a Gramophone interview with Alan Blyth in May 1990, Jurinac spoke with warmth of many of the conductors with whom she worked: Fritz Busch ('He was very tough with me altogether but he was a real Svengali. Had he lived longer, I think I would have had more confidence in myself.'), Karajan, Krips and Klemperer.
Alan Blyth who saw her many times commented that 'When Jurinac was on stage, you knew instinctively that your heart, like hers, was to be involved and not just your intellect. It is a precious and unlearnable gift. Amazingly enough, her records convey much of this – or they do at least to those of us lucky enough to complement the voice with the treasured memories of her stage appearances. Thank goodness, she is conveying as much of her art as is transferable to a new generation of singers. They should heed her advice.'