Régine Crespin

February 23, 1927 - Marseille (France) — July 5, 2007 - Paris (France)

Possessor of one of the most opulent soprano voices of her generation, Régine Crespin brought a new sensuousness to the German roles for which she was famous, from Strauss’s Marschallin to Wagner’s Kundry. She also excelled in her native French repertoire, bringing her characteristic luxurious tone and emotional commitment to the music of Fauré, Massenet and Berlioz – singing both Cassandra and Dido in Les Troyens – and appeared in the French première of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. After a period of vocal crisis she took on mezzo-soprano roles and made an alluring Carmen on record and on stage at the Metropolitan Opera.

  • 1950: After studying at the Paris Conservatoire, makes her début in Mulhouse as Elsa (Lohengrin); later that year she also sings the role at the Paris Opéra.
  • 1956: Rezia (Oberon) at the Opéra in Paris.
  • 1958–61: Appearances in Bayreuth: as Kundry in Wieland Wagner’s production of Parsifal and as Sieglinde (Die Walküre).
  • 1959–60: She sings a highly praised Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) at Glyndebourne and at Covent Garden in London.
  • 1962: Makes her début at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
  • 1963: Recording of Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été, which is to become a classic.
  • 1967: Sings Brünnhilde (Die Walküre) at the first Salzburg Easter Festival. December 1967: Sings Sieglinde (with Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde) at the Met, in a production staged and conducted by Herbert von Karajan.
  • 1982: Publication of her memoirs La vie et l’amour d’une femme, revised and translated into English in 1997 as On Stage, Off Stage.
  • 1976–92: Teaches at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM) in Paris.
  • 1995: Gives masterclasses at the Mannes College of Music in New York.
  • 1989: Makes her last appearances as a singer.

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