V2513. JUDITH RASKIN, w.Norman Johnson (Pf.): Songs by Rameau, Gluck, Schubert, Mahler & Laderman [set to Poems by Archibald MacLeish]. (Canada) Yves St Laurent YSL T-445, Live Performance, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Metropolitan Museum, New York, 9 Oct., 1964.
"Judith Raskin, the American lyric soprano famed for her voice and musicianship, was a leading singer with the New York City Opera, and then at the Metropolitan Opera from 1962 to 1972. Miss Raskin was hailed as one of the finest artists of her time. She had a voice that critics constantly referred to as ‘ravishing’. Combined with the beauty of her sound was a high order of musicianship. In addition, Miss Raskin was a beautiful woman and an excellent actress. As a complete artist, she captivated audiences whenever she appeared.
At Smith College she discovered the potential of her voice and started serious study, working with Anna Hamlin. She won the Marian Anderson Award in 1952 and 1953, and other awards followed. Soon she was making appearances around the country, but she did not achieve renown until 1957, when she sang in a televised performance of Poulenc's DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES. It was the American premiere of the opera. In 1959 she joined the New York City Opera Company, and in 1962 went to the Metropolitan Opera.
Miss Raskin sang about 20 operatic roles, ranging from Mozart through Stravinsky and Poulenc. Her Mozart was especially admired; she sang leading roles in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, DON GIOVANNI, COSI FAN TUTTE and DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE. She was also hailed for her performance as Nanetta in Verdi's FALSTAFF at the Metropolitan Opera. Many believed her to be the most attractive Adele in Strauss' FLEDERMAUS within memory. Among her contemporary operas were Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS, Moore's BALLAD OF BABY DOE in addition to DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES.
Miss Raskin never tried to be merely a singer of high notes, though her range equaled that of any lyric soprano. Nor did she ever attempt to sing louder than some of the tenors with whom she worked. Instead she concentrated on purity of sound and line. ‘I've tried to make up in depth what I don't have in quantity’, she once told an interviewer. ‘There is a kind of singer who has a poetic approach to music rather than a purely vocal approach. It's a special kind of voice, which cannot be described simply as lyric or lyric coloratura. It's a special kind of sound with a certain purity, and I like to think that's what I have’.
Miss Raskin sang at the Chicago Lyric and other American opera houses and at Glyndebourne. She also appeared frequently with American orchestras, in oratorio and in recital. She made her New York recital début at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1964 [above]. Reviewing the concert for THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard Klein pointed out that not many opera singers could make the transition from the grand gestures of the operatic stage to the intimacy of song, 'Miss Raskin’, Mr. Klein said, ‘brought to her program the finesse expected in this medium - fluent singing, pure tone, accurate scales, good musicianship, clear diction - and lost none of the keen ability to evoke character that has enlivened many of her operatic roles’.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Dec., 1984
"On the occasion of Raskin's 1962 Met début as Susanna in NOZZE, Zinka Milanov visited her backstage and informed her that she would never need to learn how to type (another example of Milanov's dark humor)! Obviously long before the advent of the personal computer and in the period in which girls were encouraged to learn typing skills in order to get ahead!"
- J. R. Peters