Emmy Destinn (February 26, 1878 – January 28, 1930) was a renowned Czech operatic soprano.
Destinn was born Emílie Pavlína Věnceslava Kittlová in Prague, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
At first Destinn devoted herself to studying the violin, and intended to shine as a virtuoso on that instrument. When she was well on in her teens, however, her voice was so rich and full that she changed her mind and determined upon an operatic career.
Her voice teacher since age 13 had been Marie Maria von Dreger Loewe-Destinn, and the young singer began using her teacher's surname. She was let go after the short engagement at the Dresden Opera and declined by Prague National Theatre in 1897. Destinn debuted on July 19, 1898 at the Berlin Court Opera as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. She made such progress that the intendant of the Berlin Court Opera engaged her at once when she was brought to her notice. She was scarcely nineteen at the time, but her voice and her genius for acting soon won the Berlin public. Her engagement in Berlin lasted till October 27, 1909. She sang in 54 operas, including 12 premieres, the most famous of which was Salome by Richard Strauss (December 5, 1906).
Her fame became international in 1901 when she was invited to sing the part of Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer at Bayreuth. She returned to sing the same role the next year.
Destinn made her Covent Garden debut at the Royal Opera House on 2 May 1904 as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She appeared there in several operas for the next two seasons, including the London premiere of Madama Butterfly with Caruso. Her Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1908 with a performance of Aida, after she was released from her contract with the Berlin Court Opera. Two years later at the Met, she created the role of Minnie in the memorable premiere of Puccini's La fanciulla del West, again opposite Caruso, and under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.
While she was successful in the lighter roles of the Wagner operas, her soprano voice was better suited to music of a more lyrical type. She excelled in the part of Carmen, in which she was said to rival Calvé.
Her career suffered a fatal blow in World War I. Destinn returned to her homeland after the start of the war, but her links with the patriotic Czech resistance caused her passport to be revoked. She was interned at her chateau for the remainder of the war. She returned to the Metropolitan Opera in 1919, but had been replaced by a new generation of singers, though she did still sing with the company until 1921.
Destinn returned to Czechoslovakia, where she married Joseph Halsbach, a Czech air force officer, in 1923. She retired from the stage in 1926 and died from a stroke in České Budějovice, Czechoslovakia. She is interred in the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague.
She was very versatile and besides being a singer was a poet, novelist and playwright, though nothing she has done in other professions has rivalled her reputation as a singer.
Bizet - CARMEN Carmen - Emmy Destinn
Jose - Karl Jorn
Micaela - Minnie Nast
Escamillio - Hermann Bachmann
Zuniga - Felix Dahn
Chorus of Court Opera Berlin
Grammophone Orchester Berlin
Conductor - Karl Ludwig Bruno Seidler-Winkler
Recorded 14-20 October 1908, Berlin