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Viorica Ursuleac (1894 - 1985)

Born into a musical family living in the city of Czernowitz (known as ‘little Vienna’ when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) Ursuleac, whose father was a priest in the Greek Orthodox church, studied at the Vienna Academy of Music for five years and later with Lilli Lehmann in Berlin and with Philipp Forstén and Beatrice Sutter-Kottlar in Frankfurt. While visiting the Croatian capital of Zagreb she was heard singing by the intendant of the city’s opera house who offered her a contract. She made her debut there as Charlotte / Werther in 1922 and subsequently sang a number of roles, all in Croatian; she returned to Czernowitz to escape a failed marriage, singing with the local opera company for the 1923–1924 season.

At a concert in Bucharest Ursuleac was heard by Queen Marie of Romania, who now assisted the development of her career. She auditioned for the conductor Felix Weingartner (himself from Croatia), who had excellent connections with the Vienna Volksoper; here she obtained a contract for the two years 1924–1926. Hearing that the Frankfurt Opera was in need of a soprano she auditioned for its music director Clemens Krauss. He rejected her, as he disliked singers from the Balkans, but when she re-auditioned under a fictitious name, she was accepted by Krauss and sang with the company for four years until 1930, appearing in the first performance of Sekles’s Die zehn Küsse in 1926 as well as in many repertory works. She and Krauss also married.




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