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Selma Kurz (1874 - 1933)


Although she worked initially as a seamstress in a nunnery, Selma Kurz, who was born into a large Jewish family, became noticed for her vocal gifts through her singing in a synagogue. A public subscription enabled her to audition in Vienna, where Count Miklós Esterházy agreed to pay for her to study with the celebrated teacher Johannes Ress. She studied also with Mathilde Marchesi in Paris, Jean de Reske in Nice and Felicie Kaschowska in Vienna; and her public debut took place at a concert given by Ress’s pupils in Vienna in March 1895. Two months later Kurz received an offer from the Hamburg Opera to sing the title role in Thomas’s Mignon: she accepted and over the next four seasons appeared at Hamburg and Frankfurt in a variety of parts, including the title role in Carmen, Elisabeth / Tannhäuser and Eudoxie / La Juive (the unusual range of her repertoire was to be a characteristic of her operatic career).

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