Destinn, Emmy

BORN 26 Feb 1878, Praha - DIED 28 Jan 1930, Ceske Budejovice
BIRTH NAME Kittlová, Emilie Venceslava Pavlína
GRAVE LOCATION Praha: Vysehrad Cemetery (Slavin)

Emilie Kittlova came from a wealthy and musical family. Her mother Jindrinka had studied with Francesco Lamberti and had appeared at the Opera Comique in Paris. But she had given up her career after she married the philanthropist Emanuel Kittl. Emilie was thirteen years old when she joined the virtuoso class of the violinist Ferdinand Lachner. She didn't like playing the pianio but she when she did she was able to play entire operas by heart. At fourteen she became a pupil of the voice teacher Marie Loewe-Destin. She started her career as a singer in Prague and Dresden with little success. In Prague the director of the National theatre, Frantisek Subert, considered her to be a spoiled girl. In Dresden they didn't like her because she was Czech.

In 1898 she went to Berlin where she was turned down at the Theater des Westens because she had no voice and she was ugly. But at the Court Opera in Berlin she was immediately recognized as a great talent by Hochberg and she was offered a contract for ten years. She took the name of Emmy Destinn, after her teacher. Her appearance as Santuzza in Mascagni 's "Cavalleria Rusticana" at the Kroll theatre was an instant success. She quickly became a star and sang parts like Carmen, Mignon and Elsa. After Carl Muck, with whom she reportedly had an affair, recommended her to Cosima Wagner she sang the part of Senta at the Bayreuth Festival in 1901. In 1905 she sang Madame Butterfly in London and in 1907 she sang at the first performance of "Salome" in Paris. She debuted in 1908 at the Metropolitan in New York under Arturo Toscani (the new conductor) and next to Enrico Caruso as "Aida". It was reported that Caruso asked her to marry him but that she refused him. In the 1915-1916 season she returned to Europe, but because of contacts to the Czech resistance and he refusal to sing for the Austrian-Hungarian troops she was placed under house arrest for two years at Stráz castle near Budweiss.

After the war she sang in Prague and again in New York from 1919 to 1921. Her marriage to the airforce officer Josef Halsberg in 1923 was a disastrous as it was short. In 1926 she left the stage but she appeared at the Queen's Hall in London in 1928. After that she gave singing lessons but she lived in retirement at Stráz Castle. By that time she was in financial trouble. In 1930 she died of a stroke during an eye operation.

Related persons
• performed with Caruso, Enrico
• has a connection with Muck, Karl
• was the lover of Puccini, Giacomo
• cooperated with Toscanini, Arturo

5/12/1906"Salome" by Richard Strauss is first performed in Berlin. It was performed at the Hofoper. Emmy Destinn was Salome. Other parts were performed by Thila Plaichinger (Herodias) and Ernst Kraus (Herodes). [Strauss, Richard]


The Slavin at the Vysehrad Cemetery, Prague.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 2019)


Ema Destinová – Wikipedia
Emmy Destinn | Life

Desvignes, Victor François

Published: 21 Mar 2021
Last update: 21 Mar 2021