Ada Sari

A woman with an astounding voice



Ada Sari is in fact a pseudonym; the real name of the world renowned coloratura soprano was Jadwiga Szayer. Her profound voice and remarkable colour of tone guaranteed her roles in the incredible operas played in famous opera houses and concert halls across the world. The peak of her performance took place during the first half of the 20th century when she sung Gilda in”Rigoletto”, Mimi in “La bohème”, Rosina in “The Barber of Seville”, Violetta in “La Traviata”, and the title roles in” Lakmé” and “Lucia di Lammermoor”. These are also her most famous roles. But how did Ada get to this point?


Ada was born in Wadowice, Poland on June 29th 1886. At the age of three, she and her family moved to Stary Sącz, a town in the South of Poland. She soon began her first lessons at a church school. Ada was taught by Poor Clares, an order of nuns, who taught her German along with the basics of singing. She also learned the tricks of her trade in bigger Polish cities such as Krakow and Cieszyn.


In 1905 her career as a professional opera singer started to take off. This was the year when she got into a private school in Vienna, where she was taught by Countess Pizzamano. Two years later she moved to Milan and studied with Antonio Rupnicek. Then, the time finally came to show off her skill and in 1909 she made her grand debut in Teatro Nazionale in Rome. Sari then performed at major opera houses in Italy and in spring of 1914 took the opportunity of a lengthened concert tour of Russia, where she was able to display her talents in Saint Petersburg, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and few other opera houses.


Unfortunately, her tour had not yet ended when World War I erupted and it was then that Ada decided to sign a contract with The Vienna State Opera, since the city didn’t appear to be under military threat. Auspiciously, Sari did not lose her popularity during the ear and sung, among others, in Lviv and The Great Theatre in Warsaw.


After World War I ended, the opera singer decided to tour exclusively in South America, where she mostly appeared on the stage of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1921 she continued with her tour, but this time performed solely in North America and sung at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University in Chicago.


In 1923 Ada was invited by the famous Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini to enact the Queen of the Night in “The Magic Flute” for the opening of the season of one of the most acclaimed opera houses in the world - La Scala.


We are slowly coming to the end of Sari’s career as one of the most distinguished soprano singers of her time. Ada was called “The Queen of the coloratura” by the Italian press and received a great deal of applause wherever she performed. For the next ten years she toured Europe and North America and shared her talent with anyone who would listen. Sari often appeared in Warsaw and moved back to Poland in 1934, where she performed in the Great Theatre in Warsaw.


During the Second World War the singer orchestrated an underground opera studio and after the war ended she began teaching at the side. It was then that she opened her own school of singing, where she educated around 100 vocalists, some as wondrous as she herself. After the war Sari taught at the Krakow conservatory and later at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.


The prodigy died at the age of 82 in a sanatorium in Ciechocinek. Ada Sari is buried at the Powązki Cementary in Warsaw.