Ternina, Milka



Successful interpreter of Wagnerian roles and of other dramatic soprano parts; born in Vezisce, Croatia. When six years old she was adopted by her aunt, Jurkovic, whose husband was a government counselor. In this household she grew up surrounded by refined and intelligent people. Her voice was discovered when she tried to sing exercises which she had overheard as part of the lessons of a cousin who was studying singing, and as a result she was given lessons by an obscure teacher named Ida Winiberger. When she was fifteen she was sent to Vienna Conservatory, where she studied for three years under Gansbacher, then went to Leipsic and made her debut in 1881 as Elizabeth in Tannhauser. She sang for a year in Leipsic, then went to Gratz, where she remained until 1884, when she went to Bremen. Here she stayed until 1890, when she entered into an engagement at the Court Theatre at Munich. Her first English appearance was at a Wagner concert given in London in 1895, and her operatic debut in England occurred in 1898 at Covent Garden, when she sang Isolde. When she sang in London in 1900 her repertory included the roles of Bruiwhilde, Elsa, Elizabeth, Leonora and Floria Tosca, Her first American appearance took place in Boston in 1896, when she sang with the Damrosch Opera Company. In 1903 she sang the role of Kundry in the first complete performance of Parsifal in America. Mme. Ternina's greatest roles are Brunnhilde, Isolde and Tosca, and she is looked upon as one of the greatest interpreters of Wagnerian parts. This is largely on account of her unusual dramatic intelligence. She is as thorough an actress as she is a singer, and her whole life is given up to an attempt to attain as near to perfection as possible.