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Friday, May 11, 2012

Jarmila Novotna's first record at the age of 19!

The soprano "In memory of my first concert" 1940
From a private collection, formerly property of Harmonie Autographs

Jarmila Novotna (1907-1994) was one of the finest singing actresses of her generation.  Czech by birth, she studied with the legendary Emmy Destinn and made her operatic debut at the National Theatre in Prague in 1925.  Her debut was in the Bartered Bride, however, it was her follow-up performance as Violetta in La Traviata which was a senational hit.  Violetta was the role most closely associated with her for the rest of her career, recordings of the third act letter scene are still thought today to be among the finest ever made.

Our recording uploaded to YouTube today was made less than a year after her debut in opera.  The 1926 acoustic is her only record of this type.  The piece is an aria, more of a lullaby from the rarely heard Czech opera, Psohlavci, or the Dog Heads by Karel Kovarovic.  In this charming recording, one can still hear the young girl with the Czech accent, which disappeared over time.

We have included Madame Novotna along with our cycle of Jewish singers, not because she was Jewish, but a conscientous objector.  With the advice and help of Maestro Arturo Toscanini, she left Europe interestingly she always noted that the day she arrived in the United States, the German army marched into Prague.  Later, after the war, she portrayed a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz looking for her son in the 1948 film, The Search.

I hope you enjoy this most historical recording, Novotna's very first!


  1. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for this very interesting article. Thanks and *GOD BLESS*