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"Madame Butterfly" and "incomparable Нalka", or the amazing Solomiia Krushelnytska

Yevhen Huliuk


Solomiia Krushelnytska (1872 - 1952) is one of the best opera singers in the world. She was born in the Ternopil region but studied and made her first professional steps on the stage in Lviv. You can visit the singer's grave at Lychakiv Cemetery, and the Opera House in Lviv is named after her.

Krushelnytska performed on stages in different parts of the world, causing admiration among millions of opera fans. Composer Giacomo Puccini adored her, and critics called the singer the best Butterfly and incomparable Halka.

Noble blood, promising beginning

Solomiia Krushelnytska's father was a Greek Catholic priest, and her family are representatives of the ancient and glorious Ukrainian family of the Sas coat of arms.

Solomiia received an excellent education and started singing early, demonstrating remarkable talents. At the age of seven, she began to play the piano, and at the time of her debut on the big stage (Lviv, 1894), she was just over twenty years old.  

Italian singer...

In 1893, Solomiia Krushelnytska first went to Italy, where she studied with the famous teacher of opera singing - Fausta Crespi. By the way, she considered Krushelnytska her best student. Subsequently, Italy became the second home for Krushelnytska. In 1904, performing at the Teatro Grande in Brescia, she brilliantly performed her role and helped Giacomo Puccini "resurrect" his opera Madame Butterfly.

The first performance of this work was booed on the stage of Milan's "La Scala" theatre, and the composer was in despair, but with Solomiia Krushelnytska, the opera was a huge success, and the singer became a favourite of Puccini and the Italian public. Solomiia Krushelnytska was also very fond of Italy, and in one of her interviews, she even called herself an Italian singer, which caused a real storm of discontent in the Polish artistic community. 

...who never renounced her Ukrainianness

However, Solomiia Krushelnytska always spoke openly about her ethnic origin and publicly emphasized it. Once, the singer responded to the request of Emperor Nicholas II and agreed to give a concert in the royal palace. Throughout the evening, she sang arias from popular operas in different languages for the royal family, and at the end, she performed several Ukrainian songs.

The emperor liked them the most and asked what she sang about. The singer answered him, noting that she performed these songs in her native language - Ukrainian.

Significantly, the conversation was in French, and Solomiia Krushelnytska knew eight languages.

Incomparable and the most expensive Halka

Solomiia Krushelnytska was not only a talented performer but also a craftswoman whose work was highly appreciated and well paid.

At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, she worked for several years at the Great Theatre in Warsaw, performing various roles.

After conquering the Warsaw audience and gaining immense popularity, the role of Halka in the opera of the same name by Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko was entrusted to another singer.

Critics called it a complete failure and eagerly awaited the return of the Ukrainian singer. So, it is not for nothing that Solomiia Krushelnytska was the highest-paid performer in the Warsaw theatre: sometimes, her colleagues had  three times fewer fees for the same roles.

A perfect artist

There were several moments in the biography of Solomiia Krushelnytska when she played roles that the audience and professional critics stopped believing in and gained success.

Thanks to their talent, perseverance and creative approach to work, they have repeatedly received recognition and positive feedback. Here is one of them: "She stuns the audience's senses without resorting to standard theatrical and singing effects. In her every word you can feel not only a professional singer, but also a perfect artist".

The famous Polish writer Zofia Nalkowska recalled that she was seized by a burning desire to become an actress when she watched Solomiia Krushelnytska's work on stage.

Geography lessons from Solomiia Krushelnytska

During her long stage career Solomiia Krushelnytska managed to perform in many countries and different parts of the world.

Listeners in Milan, Rome, Naples, Paris, Nice, New York, Buenos Aires, Santiago, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Krakow, and Odesa had the opportunity to enjoy her wonderful singing. The singer often performed in Lviv; she also had concerts in Ternopil, Chernivtsi, Berezhany, Zbarazh, etc.

Досконала артистка

У біографії Соломії Крушельницької було декілька моментів, коли вона бралася за виконання ролей, у які переставали вірити глядачі та професійні критики і здобувала успіх. Завдяки таланту, наполегливості й креативному підходу до роботи, вони неодноразово отримувала визнання і схвальні відгуки. Ось один з них: “Вона приголомшує почуття слухачів, не вдаючись до заяложених ефектів театрального і співацького мистецтва. В кожному її слові відчувається не тільки професійна співачка, а й досконала артистка”. Відома польська письменниця Зофія Налковська згадувала, що її охопило палке бажання стати актрисою, коли вона спостерігала за роботою Соломії Крушельницької на сцені.

Her native places or those with pleasant associations were in the most remote corners of the world, and their geography was extremely broad.

For example, the singer married Italian lawyer and politician Cesare Riccioni in 1910 in Buenos Aires. They lived in the town of Viareggio in Tuscany - in the villa "Salomea" with a wonderful garden and a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. By the way, during her life the singer was called Salome. This version of her name was liked by Krushelnytska herself:

"I sincerely kiss everyone and everything. Your Salome"


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