OP0287. MARIE-MAGDELEINE, Live Performance, 1976, New York, w.Morss Cond. Sacred Music Society of New York; Régine Crespin, Sheila Nadler, Louis Roney & Joseph Rouleau; WERTHER – Excerpts, Live Performance, 27 Feb., 1971, w.Lombard Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Christa Ludwig, Franco Corelli, Judith Blegen & John Reardon. (Portugal) 2-Bella Voce 107.239. Long out-of-print, final copy! - 8712177038442
“MARIE-MAGDELEINE is an oratorio (Drame Sacré) in three acts and four parts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet, based on LA VIE DE JÉSUS (1863) by Ernest Renan. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in Paris on 11 April, 1873. The first staged performance took place in Nice on 9 February, 1903. It was Massenet's first success and won him the praise of Tchaikovsky, Gounod and Bizet.
The story concerns the last days of Jesus from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. The subject initially caused some controversy, as some believed that physical love was implied between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. From today's perspective those implications are difficult to detect. While it contains some beautiful music and has been revived for certain singers, notably Régine Crespin, the work has not endured and is rarely performed.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron
"Crespin was the greatest singer to come out of France in the past half century….She expressed herself through words rather than through obvious histrionic gestures, and few artists enunciated so clearly, in any language – English and German included. Her French, of course, was perfect, so lucidly projected that the soprano had every right to expect her listeners to understand her. She never felt the need to exaggerate….Flickers of nuance are always sufficient for the intelligent operagoer."
- Ralph V. Lucano, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2007
"[Crespin] was surely one of the greatest French singers of the 20th Century; in fact…one of the great singers on records, one whose art goes well beyond the merely vocal….Beyond its size, [her voice] had a beautiful shimmer about it, a glowing quality present in all registers."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, March/April, 2005
"Régine Crespin, the French operatic soprano and later mezzo-soprano, one of the most important vocal artists to emerge from France in the decades after World War II was widely admired for the elegance, warmth and subtlety of her singing, especially in the French and German operatic repertories. Early on, the natural carrying power of her voice seemed to point to a career as a dramatic soprano. Indeed, she made her 1950 début at the regional company in Mulhouse, France, singing Elsa in Wagner’s LOHENGRIN. Yet Ms Crespin’s singing was imbued with nuanced phrasing, telling attention to text, creamy lyricism and lovely high pianissimos. While she had an enveloping voice, she always seemed to keep something in reserve, leading some listeners to sense a touch too much French restraint. But most opera buffs valued Ms Crespin for the effortless richness, lyrical nobility and subtle colorings of her singing. She was also a sophisticated actress whose Junoesque presence commanded attention. Ms Crespin’s Metropolitan Opera début came in 1962 as the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER, directed by the soprano Lotte Lehmann, who had been the most renowned interpreter of the role. Reviewing Ms Crespin’s portrayal, the New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that she gave ‘a simply beautiful performance’ enriched with ‘all kinds of delicate shading’. But when she let out her full voice, he added, it ‘soared over the orchestra and all over the house — big, confident and beautiful’. In 1967 she sang Sieglinde to Birgit Nilsson’s Brünnhilde at the Met, with Herbert von Karajan conducting a production that he also directed. Reviewing that performance for The Times of London, the critic Conrad L. Osborne wrote that ‘Nilsson and Crespin spurring each other on make for the sort of thing one remembers with a chill for years’. In later life Ms Crespin won wide recognition as a voice teacher. During some 1995 master classes at the Mannes College of Music in New York, the students were enraptured not only by her insightful critiques, but by her insider tales about opera stars."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 July, 2007