[Crespin, Regina Resnik and Renata Tebaldi]
Today let us celebrate one of the greats of 20th century opera, Mlle Régine Crespin (whose birthday it would have been earlier this week).
Of her talents, British theatre director and orchestrator Jeremy Sams said: "Crespin's voice always wears mink." Indeed, for thirty years she was lauded as one of the most expressive prima donnas in France, and performed to sell-out audiences in venues from Glyndebourne to Buenos Aires.
Here she is with Franco Corelli in 1964, with Teco io sto (from Verdi's Un ballo in Maschera):
And here, her sublime rendition of Vissi d'Arte (from Puccini's Tosca):
- From humble beginnings in the south of France (her parents owned a shoe shop), Mlle Crespin rose to prominence in post-war France and made her debut in Paris in 1951.
- Francis Poulenc himself chose Régine to premiere his Les Dialogues des Carmélites at L'Opéra in 1957.
- During her career she became a successful Wagnerian singer, performing at Bayreuth, Saltzburg and Vienna; but also tackled a range of works by Fauré, Gluck, Offenbach and Satie, and oddities such as Menotti's The Medium.
- She was renowned as a real-life femme fatale, of whom the conductor Henry Lewis declared: "That's the sexiest woman I've ever seen."
- Her final appearance was in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, at the Palais des Congrès in Paris in 1989.