It was generally acknowledged that Zinka Milanov was the greatest dramatic soprano after Rosa Ponselle, who retired early in 1937. (…) Her singing was refined, subtle, powerful, sensitive or dramatic, as the music demanded. She produced a big, warm sound and had an equalized scale up to a secure high C. In the Aida ‘Nile scene’ she was able to take a haunting pianissimo on the C that will forever float in memory.
Zinka Milanov was born in Zagreb, Croatia, as Zinka Kunc. She studied with the famous Wagnerian soprano Milka Trnina. When she was discovered in Prague by Bruno Walter, he recommended her to Arturo Toscanini for the performance of Verdi’s Requiem in Salzburg in 1937. It was in Salzburg that Edward Johnson, then general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, heard her. She made her debut in New York as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore in the same year.
At that time, she adopts Milanov as her stage name and continues performing as the leading dramatic soprano of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly 30 years, until her retirement in 1966, at the closing night of the Old Met House. Subsequently, she devoted herself to teaching, Grace Bumbry, Christa Ludwig and Regina Resnik beingsome of her students.