Ina Bourskaya

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Ina Bourskaya, from a 1922 publication.
Ina Bourskaya as Carmen, from a 1922 publication.

Ina Bourskaya (September 9, 1886 — June 25, 1954) was a Ukrainian-born American opera singer.

Early life[edit]

Ina Korzeniowska was born at Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Her parents, Joseph Korzeniowski and Teofilia Demlicka, were Polish.[1]


Ina Bourskaya's opera debut was in 1913, in Romeo et Juliette. She arrived in the United States as a star of the Russian Opera Company,[2] which toured internationally in Asia,[3] showcasing Russian-trained singers and musicians, performing in Russian.[4] She went to Chicago by 1922, first with the Russian Opera Company,[5] then appearing as Amneris in the Chicago Civic Opera's production of Aida.[6][7] She also sang at Chicago's Ravinia Festival every summer from 1922 to 1931.[8][9][10] In 1927-1928, she spent a season with the Los Angeles Opera, and performed in three operas with the San Francisco Opera.[11] From 1933 to 1937, she was a member of the San Carlo Opera Company.[1]

Bourskaya left the Russian Opera Company to join the Metropolitan Opera in 1922. (She was replaced by Nina Koshetz.)[12] Bourskaya starred in Carmen many times with the Metropolitan Opera.[13][14][15] While in New York, she performed at benefit concerts for the Veterans' Mountain Camp near Saranac, New York,[16] and the Brooklyn Children's Fresh Air Association.[17]

She appeared in a 1930 Vitaphone film short of the temple scene from Aida.[18] In 1932, Bourskaya scoffed at opera singers' slimming regimens, saying "If the artists of today are truly to portray the works of the great masters, we must not diet, we must not roll on the floors, nor must we try to portray something the old masters knew nothing about."[19]

She left the Metropolitan Opera after the 1936-1937 season. In the 1940s, Bourskaya used the name Ina Bours, and worked as a receptionist in Chicago, Illinois.[1][20]

Personal life[edit]

Ina Korzeniowska married Witold Bourski, a professor of language and philosophy, in 1908. She also had a longtime relationship with tenor Petr Skuba, who died in 1917.[1] She became an American citizen in 1928, after first applying in 1923.[21] She died in Chicago in 1954, aged 67 years.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d Charles Mintzer, "Ina Bourskaya (1886/1888-1954): A Singer Remembered" Opera Nostalgia (March 2017).
  2. ^ "Ina Bourskaya under Hurok Management" Musical Leader (May 18, 1922): 492.
  3. ^ "Bourskaya Introduced Carmen Role in Japan" Independent Record (April 30, 1925): 3. via Newspapers.comopen access
  4. ^ M. H. Flint, "New York" Musical Times and Singing-Class Circular (July 1, 1922): 513-514.
  5. ^ "Russians Continue to Interest" Musical Leader (March 30, 1922): 295.
  6. ^ "Opening of the Opera Season" Music News (November 3, 1922): 11.
  7. ^ "'Aida' to Inaugurate Civic Opera Season" Music News (November 3, 1922): 16.
  8. ^ Edward Moore, "Ravinia Likes Flaming Girl from Steppes" Chicago Tribune (July 23, 1922): 15. via Newspapers.comopen access
  9. ^ Edward Moore, "Bourskaya Thrills Ravinia Crowds as Dramatic Carmen" Chicago Tribune (June 29, 1923): 17. via Newspapers.comopen access
  10. ^ Edward Moore, "Ina Bourskaya Sings as Climax to Polish Program at Ravinia" Chicago Tribune (August 6, 1928): 31. via Newspapers.comopen access
  11. ^ "Ina Bourskaya", Performance Archive, San Francisco Opera.
  12. ^ "Russian Opera Company Offers Novelties in New York" Musical Leader (May 18, 1922): 479.
  13. ^ Victoria Etnier Villamil, "O ma Carmen": Bizet's Fateful Gypsy in Portrayals from 1875 to the Present (McFarland 2017): 87. ISBN 9781476663241
  14. ^ "New Carmen Appears in Ina Bourskaya" New York Times (March 3, 1923): 9. via ProQuest
  15. ^ "Ina Bourskaya as Carmen" New York Times (December 5, 1924): 28. via ProQuest
  16. ^ "Concert Tonight to Aid Veterans' Camp" New York Times (June 3, 1923): X4. via ProQuest
  17. ^ "Opera Concert Aids Camp" New York Times (December 12, 1927): 30. via ProQuest
  18. ^ Roy Liebman, Vitaphone Films: A Catalogue of the Features and Shorts (McFarland 2010): 54. ISBN 9781476609362
  19. ^ "No Opera Star Can Live on a Meal a Day, Says Ina" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (October 12, 1932): 26. via Newspapers.comopen access
  20. ^ Funeral listing, Ina Bours (Bourskaya), Chicago Tribune (June 28, 1954): 52. via Newspapers.comopen access
  21. ^ "Madame Bourskaya, Opera Star, Gets First Papers" Chicago Tribune (July 18, 1923): 5. via Newspapers.comopen access
  22. ^ "Ina Bourskaya, 67, Sang at the Met" New York Times (June 29, 1954): 27. via ProQuest

External links[edit]