Solomiya Krushelnytska

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Solomiya Krushelnytska
Соломія Амвросіївна Крушельницька
Solomiya Krushelnytska.jpg
Born(1872-09-23)September 23, 1872
DiedNovember 16, 1952(1952-11-16) (aged 80)
Resting placeLychakiv Cemetery
EducationValery Wysocki [pl], Fausta Crespi
Alma materLviv Conservatory
Known forOperatic soprano
Spouse(s)Alfredo Cesare Augusto Riccioni
Merited Artist of Ukraine
Memorial(s)Solomiya Krushelnytska Musical Memorial Museum [uk] in Lviv, Solomiya Krushelnytska Museum [uk] in Ternopil Oblast, the Solomiya Krushelnytska Lviv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Krushelnytska Monument [uk] in Ternopil, Solomiya Krushelnytska Streets in Kremenchuk [uk], Kiev [uk], Lviv [uk], and Ternopil [uk]
Solomiya Krushelnytska and her husband, Cesare Riccioni

Solomiya Amvrosiivna Krushelnytska[N 1] (Ukrainian: Соломія Амвро́сіївна Крушельницька; September 23, 1872 — November 16, 1952) was a Ukrainian soprano, considered to be one of the brightest opera stars of the first half of the 20th century.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Solomiya Krushelnytska was born in 1872, in the village of Bielawińce, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Biliavyntsi, Ukraine). After several years of moving from village to village, in 1878 her father, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest Ambrosiy Vasilyovych Krushelnytsky, settled with his large family in the village of Bila on the outskirts of the regional metropolis of Ternopil. In addition to Solomiya, the noble-born family[2] included her mother Teodora Maria (née Savchynska, d.1907), sisters Olha/Olga, Osypa, Hanna/Anna, Emilia and Maria, and brothers Anton and Volodymyr.[3] In her memoirs, Solomiya's niece Daria/Odarka Bandriwska writes that as a child, the future diva came to learn a fair number of Ukrainian folk songs from the residents of the various villages in which her family had lived.[4]

As a teenager, Solomiya went on to secondary education courses in the booming town of Ternopil, which had recently been connected by rail line with the provincial seat of Lviv to the West. In Ternopil, she befriended fellow musicians such as future composer Denys Sichynsky, whom she would follow to the Lviv Conservatory in her study of music. Her first public performances also took place in Ternopil, beginning in 1883, where she would meet for the first time with intellectuals such as civic leader and composer Ostap Nyzhankivsky, and writer, political activist, and lifelong friend Ivan Franko. In 1891, she entered the Lviv Conservatory, where she would study under the tutelage of Valery Wysocki. Before graduating, she debuted professionally on April 15, 1893 in the role of Leonora in a production of Donizetti's La favorita at the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet; a century later, this historic opera house would be renamed in her honor. Following her debut, Solomiya went on to place "Silver" at her graduating concours.


Solomiya Krushelnytska followed her 1893 professional debut with additional performances at the Lviv Opera. On the advice of Gemma Bellincioni, who witnessed Solomiya's talents in Lviv that summer, the young Krushelnytksa would travel to Italy in the fall of 1893 to pursue further vocal studies.[5] After her father took out a loan for her travels, Solomiya arrived in Milan where she would study under Fausta Crespi,[6] while living with Bellincioni's mother. It was under Crespi's tutelage that Solomiya transitioned from her previous training as a mezzo-soprano to a lyric-dramatic soprano. For the following 3 years, she would divide her time between Milan and Lviv, returning regularly for engagements with the Lviv Opera in order to pay for her ongoing studies in Italy.

Solomiya would go on to perform in Odessa (1896–1897), Warsaw (1898–1902),[7] St Petersburg (1901–1902), the Paris Grand Opera (1902), Naples (1903–4), Cairo and Alexandria (1904), and Rome (1904–5).[6]

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.[7]

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 and the mayor of Viareggio, Alfredo Cesare Augusto Riccioni.[8] In 1920, at the height of her career, she left the opera world, and three years later started concert tours, performing in Western Europe, Canada and the USA. Her knowledge of eight languages allowed her to include in her concert programs songs of many nations. She was a fervent promoter of Ukrainian folk songs and works by Ukrainian composers.

Later life[edit]

Solomiya Krushelnytska's home in Lviv

Prior to the death of her mother Teodora in 1907, Solomiya's family convinced her to purchase a residence in Lviv, to use whenever she returned from touring, and to provide a comfortable living space for the rest of the family, especially for her mother towards the end of her life.[9] In 1903, Solomiya purchased a building located on what is now Krushelnytska Street [uk] (named in her honor in 1993), uphill from the campus of Lviv University. Built and designed by Jakub Kroch in 1884, the large building had several floors of living space, initially occupied by members of Krushelnytska's immediate family. Solomiya's brother-in-law Karl Bandriwsky was asked to oversee the management of the building once apartments began be rented out following the departure of her siblings after marriage. With a facade featuring heavy rustication decorated with ornamental statuary of lyrical muses by Leonard Marconi,[10] the building became known as Lviv's Stonehouse of Music (Ukrainian: Музикальнa кам’яниця),[9] a haven for intellectuals, visiting artists and impresarios engaged at the nearby opera house. In the latter years of his life, it would also serve as the home of writer and family friend, Ivan Franko.

In August 1939, after the death of her husband, Krushelnytska left Italy and returned to her home in Lviv, which during the interbellum period had become an important stronghold of the Second Polish Republic. Tragically, she would remain trapped in this city for the rest of her life, when only a few weeks following her arrival, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union colluded to invade Poland and divide its territory between them in September 1939. The two invading armies met at Lviv, and proceeded to lay siege to the city. The city would suffer under 10 days of shelling by Luftwaffe bombers, German panzer strikes and Red Army cavalry raids, incurring the loss of several thousand lives and the destruction of many historic buildings, including the complete leveling of the Church of the Holy Spirit [uk] one block away from the Krushelnytska residence. Following the surrender of Polish forces, Lviv was ceded to Soviet occupation, which swiftly enacted a brutal regime of repression. The home of Solomiya Krushelnytska, was seized by the authorities,[9] leaving her only one living quarters on the second floor to share with her sister, Hanna. For much of this period, Solomiya Krushelnytska remained confined to her house, due to a broken leg.[9]

Less than two years later, the German army invaded Ukraine again, and Lviv fell under Nazi occupation by July 1941. This time, it was the Wehrmacht that took over two floors of the Krushelnytska residence,[9] forcing all occupants to either move out or move in together on the upper floors. Solomiya would survive the years of ethnic cleansing her city would endure, until the return of Soviet troops in 1944 would transition her into the final stage of her life, as an artist trapped behind the Iron curtain. The formerly world-renowned artist began giving voice lessons and would return to her alma mater, the Lviv Conservatory, as a professor. In 1951, she was recognized as a Merited Artist of Ukraine. Solomiya Krushelnytska died on November 16, 1952, and was subsequently buried at Lviv's Lychakiv Cemetery, across from the gravesite of her friend, Ivan Franko.


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


  1. ^ "Solomiya Krushelnytska. Voice that belongs to the mankind". See You In Ukraine. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "Родовід Теодори Марії Савчинської". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  4. ^ O. K. Bandrivska, Memories about S. Krushelnytska
  5. ^ Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych, Oksana A. "Italian Opera Singers: 3 Amazing Female Operatic Voices". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b Historical Dictionary of Ukraine (2nd Edition). United Kingdom: The Scarecrow Press. 2013. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-8108-7847-1.
  7. ^ a b "Krusceniski, Salomea". Andrea's Cantabile – Subito. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Solomia Krushelnytska and Italy". The Day. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Давні мелодії "Музикальної кам'яниці"". Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  10. ^ Бірюльов, Юрій Олександрович (2007). Leonard Marconi i jego pracownia. Warsaw: Neriton. ISBN 978-83-7543-009-7.


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