Obituary: Acclaimed Salome Interpreter Maria Kouba Dies at 100

By Francisco Salazar

Austrian soprano Maria Kouba has died at the age of 100. The family first reported the death of the well-known soprano.

Kouba, who was born in Graz, Austria, became well known at the end of the 1950s, thanks to her interpretation in the title role of Richard Strauss’ “Salome.”

She first sang the role in Graz in 1957, stepping in for an ill colleague, and then went on to perform the opera more than 200 times at such prestigious theaters as the Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Staatsoper.

When the soprano sang the role at the Metropolitan Opera, critics said, “She gave a courageous and resourceful performance within the range of her talents, but these are so special.”

She would also sing Senta in Wagner’s “Fliegende Holländer” at the Met during the 1965-66 season under Karl Böhm.

Kouba went on to become Graz’s prima donna performing in new productions of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” and Johann Strauss’ “Gypsy Baron.”

The soprano never made any commercial recordings, but there is an ORF television production of “Salome” alongside Hans Hotter and Julius Patzak under Hans Swarowsky.

Kouba was married to a Czech conductor Stefan Kouba.