Jurinac, Sena

Bosnian-(Yugoslavian)-Austrian soprano, b. 1921

Biographical notes:

She was born Srebrenka Jurinac in Travnik, Bosnia, that at the time was part of Yugoslavia. Her father was a Croatian army doctor, her mother Viennese. She showed early signs of a musical talent and studied at the Zagreb conservatory with Milka Kostrencic (the teacher of Zinka Milanov), making her debut as Mimì at Zagreb in 1942. In the following two years she sang the Countess, Freia, Isabella in Werner Egk’s premiere Columbus as well as in Yugoslavian operas. In 1944 (she was by then only 23 years old) she was contracted to the Vienna State Opera by Karl Böhm. Because of the War she was not able to sing until 1946 there (her first role was Cherubino). In the first year at the Staatsoper she had to sing more than 150 performances a year (far too much for a young singer). In the autumn of that year she came to London with the Vienna ensemble, singing Dorabella, the part she took with the Glyndebourne Opera at the Edinburgh Festival, where Fritz Busch became her mentor, and where she sang regularly for many years. She quickly established as one of the most admired members of the “Wiener Ensemble” (which included Irmgard Seefried, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Lisa della Casa, Anton Dermota , Erich Kunz and others). In 1950 she appeared as Fiordiligi at Glyndebourne, to be followed by Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Ilia, the Countess and Cherubino (one of her greatest creations). At the Salzburg Festival she sang Dorabella, Cherubino and Amor, Eurydike, Marzelline, Elisabetta and Octavian (another highlight role). She performed the Countess in 1962 and the Composer in 1964. Regular appearances included performances at Covent Garden. In 1960 she sang an ardent and impassioned Octavian at the re-opened Festspielhaus at Salzburg opposite Lisa della Casa. Under the guidance of Herbert von Karajan she began to sing heavier roles: Desdemona, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Elisabetta, Marina, Tosca, Butterfly, Jenufa, Iphigenia and even Leonore. Sena Jurinac bade farewell  to the operatic stage as Marschallin at the Vienna State Opera in 1983 but continued to give recitals. She has been a sought-after singing coach for many years in Europe and the United States.


As Cio-Cio-San


As the Composer in “Ariadne auf Naxos”a


As Elisabetta in “Don Carlos”


Recordings: (selection)


Beethoven - Fidelio (Furtwängler 1953 live/Mödl, Windgassen, Frick, Edelmann, Poell, Schock)

EMI Références

Gluck - Iphigénie en Tauride (Kubelik 1965 live/in German/ Wunderlich, Prey, Engen, Fahberg)


Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice (Karajan 1959 live/Simionato, Sciutti)


Humperdinck - Hänsel und Gretel (Karajan 1954 live/Schwarzkopf, Panerai, Ronchini, Palombini, Streich)


Krenek - Karl V (Albrecht/Cziesinski, Schwarz)


Massenet - Manon (Schüchter 1950 live/in German/Dermota, Olah, Roth, Neidlinger)


Mozart - Così fan tutte (Busch 1950 live/Higlights/Thebom, Lewis, Kunz, Borriello, Noni)


Mozart - Don Giovanni (Böhm 1955 live/London, Weber, Della Casa, Seefried, Dermota, Kunz, Berry)


Mozart  - Don Giovanni (Moralt 1955/London, Berry, Zadek, Simoneau, Sciutti, Weber, Wächter)


Mozart - Don Giovanni (Friczay 1958/Fischer-Dieskau, Stader, Häfliger, Kohn, Seefried)


Mozart - Idomeneo (Pritchard 1956/Lewis, Simoneau, Udovick, Milligan)


Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro (Karajan 1950/Seefried, Kunz, Schwarzkopf, London, Höngen)


Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro (Böhm 1956/Berry, Schöffler, Streich, Ludwig, Czerwenka, Malaniak)


Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro (Gui 1955/Bruscantini, Calabrese, Sciutti, Stevens, Sinclair, Cuénod)


Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro (Mehta 1968 live/Petri, Stratas, Bruscantini, Berganza)


Mozart - Die Zauberflöte (Karajan 1950/Seefried, Dermota, Kunz, London, Lipp)


Mussorgsky - Boris Godunov (Karajan 1964 live/Ghiaurov, Gjuselev, Diakov, Dobrianova, Usunov)


Pfitzner - Palestrina (Heger 1964 live/Wunderlich, Berry, Stolze, Frick, Wiener, Unger, Klein, Ludwig)


R. Strauss - Ariadne auf Naxos (Leinsdorf 1960/Rysanek, Peters, Peerce, Berry)


R. Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Karajan 1952 live/Schwarzkopf, Delmann, Kunz, Della Casa)


R. Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Kleiber 1954/Reining, Weber, Güden, Poell)


R. Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Knappertsbusch 1955 live/ Reining, Böhme, Poell, Güden)


R. Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Karajan 1960 live/Della Casa, Edelmann, Kunz, Güden)


R. Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Karajan 1964 live/Schwarzkopf, Rothenberger, Edelmann)


Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin (Schüchter 1952/in German/Hasslo, Schock, Frick, Litz)

Della Voce Luna

Verdi - Don Carlos (Karajan 1958 live/Fernandi, Simionato, Bastianini, Siepi)


Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen (Furtwängler 1953/Mödl, Suthaus, Ludwig, Greindl, Pernetsdorfer, Poell, Klose, Gabory, Rössl-Majdan)



The Art of Sena Jurinac (Arias by Mozart, Beethoven, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Offenbach and Verdi)


Incontri Immorabili Vol. 18

Fonit Cetra

Grandi Recital (Live recordings: Mussorgsky, Mozart, Weber, Puccini)


Recital (R. Strauss - Four last Songs. Arias by Tchaikovsky, Smetana. Excerpts from Così fan tutte and Idomeneo, conducted by Fritz Busch at the Glyndebourne Festival 1950 - 1954)

EMI Références

The Unforgettable Voice of Peter Anders


Die Liedsängerin Vol. 1 (Schumann, Brahms, R. Strauss, Respighi, Mahler)

Della Voce Luna


Grosse Mozartsänger Vol. 3


Mike Richter’s Opera Page: The Record of Singing Vol. 4



As Donna Elvira (left) and Donna Anna (right)


As Fiordiligi


Hilde Güden (Sophie) and Sena Jurinac (Octavian)


“The lad himself is played by Sena Jurinac, who has one of the most beautiful voices at the Vienna State Opera. She is charmingly natural both as the youthfully bewildered lover and as a rogue. The Cherubino-like nature of the character finds particularly delightful expression when playful amorousness turns to the tongue-tied awkwardness of the first real feeling of love.”

Karl Heinz Ruppel describing her Octavian, Süddeutsche Zeitung 1960


Josephine Veasey (Octavian) and Sena Jurinac (Marschallin)


Sena Jurinac was one of the best loved sopranos of the postwar era. She possessed a voice of an individual beauty and transluscent color with a generous and warm personality to complement the natural sincerity and spontaneity of her singing. To me, her voice shines at once silver and gold. Much of her Mozart and Strauss is a model both of style and of voice production. The characters of Cherubino, Manon and Octavian, to name but a few, are superbly illuminated by her individual phrasing.

I would like to present the artist in a repertoire excluding Mozart and Strauss (for which she was particularly admired). Marenka’s aria is one of the greatest versions on records, despite the German language. The same could be said about her Manon. Richard Strauss’ “Beim Schlafengehen” shows her in superb form, this was a live performance at Stockholm conducted by Fritz Busch, shortly before his death.


As Manon


 Adieu, notre petite table in German (Title role in Manon / Massenet / Hamburg live 1950 / W. Schüchter)

 Alone at last in German   (Marenka in The Bartered Bride / Smetana / EMI 1950 / W. Braithwaite)


 Marzelline at the Salzburg Festival in 1950