B1141. CLARA LEISER. Jean de Reszke and the Great Days of Opera. New York, Minton-Balch, 1934. 337pp. Index; Bibliography; Photos. Exceptional copy.
“Jean de Reszke was a Polish tenor renowned internationally for the high quality of his singing and the elegance of his bearing, he became the biggest male opera star of the late 19th century. In January 1874, de Reszke made his début, undertaking the baritone part of Alfonso in a production of Donizetti's LA FAVORITA in Venice. The following April, he sang for the first time in London, performing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and a little later in Paris, essaying an array of different baritone rôles.
De Reszke displayed limitations as a baritone and he withdrew from the stage to allow for a further period of study, this time with Giovanni Sbriglia in Paris. Under Sbrigilia's tutelage, his voice gained remarkably in the freedom of its upper register. Accordingly, when he made his first operatic reappearance in 1879 (in Madrid), it was as a tenor, scoring a success in the title-rôle of Meyerbeer's ROBERT LE DIABLE. Indeed, the then 29-year-old de Reszke's immense fame as a singer dates from this moment.
He was closely associated with the French and Wagnerian operatic repertoires during the peak of his career at Covent Garden and the Met. His French signature parts were considered to be Meyerbeer's three big tenor heroes (Vasco, Jean and Raoul), Gounod's Faust and Roméo, and the title rôle in Massenet's LE CID (which was written expressly for him). De Reszke was equally successful singing in German, and his appearances as Lohengrin, Walther von Stolzing, Siegfried and Tristan were lauded by music critics, who praised him for demonstrating how the extremely demanding and often declamatory music that Wagner wrote for his heldentenors could be sung with beauty of tone and, wherever practicable, a smooth legato line. American-born Lillian Nordica was the most illustrious of the dramatic sopranos that partnered him in Wagner's operas.
Noted for his rounded timbre and matchless ability to combine a virile singing style with an exceptional degree of gracefulness and vocal refinement, de Reszke is generally regarded as being one of the very greatest tenors of all time.”
- Z. D. Akron