Solomiya Krushelnytska

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Solomiya Krushelnytska.

Solomiya Krushelnytska[N 1] (Ukrainian: Соломія Крушельницька) (23 September 1872 – 16 November 1952) was one of the brightest soprano opera stars of the first half of the 20th century.

Life and career[edit]

Krushelnytska was born in the village of Biliavyntsi, now Buchach Raion, south-west of Ternopil, Austria-Hungary (today Buchach Raion, Ukraine). Born into the family of Amvrosiy Krushelnytskyi, a Ukrainian priest of noble origins,[1] the family relocated a number of times during her childhood, finally settling in the village of Bila just north of Ternopil. In her childhood she acquired a great number of folk songs which she had learned from villagers of the various places she had lived.[2]

In 1891, she entered the Lviv Conservatory from which she graduated with distinction in 1893. Even before graduation she appeared as Leonora in the Lviv Opera production of Donizetti's La favorita. This brought critical acclaim to the young singer.

In 1904, she famously became a savior of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The opera had been booed by the audience at its premiere in Milan's La Scala, but three months later in Brescia, a revised version of the work, with Krushelnytska singing the leading role, was a major success.

Her schedule, during her studies in Milan, included vocal lessons, acting lessons, learning new parts, learning new languages – for six hours every day. Her "leisure time" included visits to museums and historic sites, attendance at operatic and theatrical performances. She maintained active correspondence with friends and acquaintances, covering such issues as the fate of her native Ukraine, problems of culture, recently read books. In addition, Krushelnytska regularly appeared in performances of the music and drama school L'Armonia.

On tours, she sang in four and five productions during a single week. She could learn a part in a new opera in two days, and develop the character of a role in another three or four. Her repertoire totaled 63 parts. In the history of music, Krushelnytska is known as an active promoter of the works of her contemporaries, and of Richard Wagner. In 1902 she starred in a successful production of Lohengrin in Paris. In 1906 she appeared to acclaim at Milan's La Scala in Richard Strauss's Salome, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. She also performed in other theatres across Europe, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and others.

In 1910, Krushelnytska married Italian attorney Cesare Ricchoni. In 1920, at the height of her career, she left the opera, and three years later started concert tours. Her knowledge of eight languages allowed her to include in her concert programs songs of many nations.

In August 1939, after the death of her husband, Krushelnytska left Italy and returned to Lviv, where she maintained a residence until her death in 1952. A few weeks later, Soviet forces entered the city under the provisions of the Nazi-Soviet pact. The Soviet administration nationalized her townhouse in Lviv. After World War II Krushelnytska began teaching at the Lviv Conservatory. In 1951, she was named honored artist of the Ukrainian SSR and in 1952 was promoted to full professor at the Conservatory. Her former students and colleagues recall her dignified and humane manner as a teacher.

In the 1920s, she left the opera stage to perform as a concert singer performing in Western Europe, Canada and the USA. She was a fervent promoter of Ukrainian folk songs and works by Ukrainian composers.


The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet is named after her (Lviv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Solomiya Krushelnytska, Ukrainian: Львівський Державний академічний театр опери та балету імені Соломії Крушельницької).

The building where she was born became a museum in 1963. In 1966 a film dedicated to her was made by the Ukrainian documentary film board and in 1983 a film titled The Return of the Butterfly was produced by the Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kiev. In 1991 an international competition for opera singers commenced in Lviv.



  1. ^ John-Paul Himka. (1988).Galician Villagers and the Ukrainian National Movement in the Nineteenth Century. MacMillan Press in Association with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, pg.284
  2. ^ O. K. Bandrivska, Memories about S. Krushelnytska


  1. ^ Her name is sometimes spelt as Solomiya Ambrosiyivna Krushelnytska, Salomea Krusceniski, Krushel'nytska or Kruszelnicka.


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