Vienna opera singer Jurinac dies at 90

FILE - The Dec. 2, 1959 file photo shows famed German Prima Donna Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Sena Jurinac, top, in a scene from the Richard Strauss Opera "Der Rosenkavalier" during rehearsal at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. 90-years-old Jurinac died Nov. 22, 2011 in her house near Augsburg, Germany. (AP Photo)

BERLIN (AP) — Sena Jurinac, one of the Vienna State Opera's most celebrated performers in the 1940s and 50s in roles as both a soprano and mezzo-soprano, has died in southern Germany at age 90.

The Vienna State Opera, which confirmed the death Wednesday, said Jurinac died Tuesday at her home near Augsburg.

"We are mourning the loss of a legendary artist who shaped not only the Vienna State Opera but also the entire opera world" opera director Dominique Meyer said in a statement.

Born in Travnik in Yugoslavia in October 1921, Jurinac studied at the academy of music in Zagreb and sang at the opera there before she made her debut at the Vienna opera as Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro" on May 1, 1945 — the first production after World War II.

She performed as Cherubino 129 times and went on to become one of the best-known singers at the opera house in the 1940s and 50s, singing in operas including "Don Giovanni," ''Der Rosenkavalier" and "La Boheme." Altogether she was on stage at the Vienna opera 1,268 times in 46 different parts.

Jurinac also appeared abroad, including performances at the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden, in San Francisco, Milan and Buenos Aires.

She became a darling of the public at the Salzburg Festival where she sang for the first time in 1947 as Dorabella in "Cosi fan tutte."

In a statement, the Salzburg Festival said that Jurinac was one of the artists that helped build Salzburg's international fame during the postwar years.

"The festival owes magic moments to Sena Jurinac for which both the audience and the press celebrated her alike," festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said. "The black flag, which will fly at the festival's house today, is a tiny sign for the great sadness and gratitude that fulfills us."