OP3320. TOSCA, Live Performance, 13 Jan., 1968, w.Mehta Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Régine Crespin, Gianni Raimondi, Gabriel Bacquier, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-911
"[Crespin's] Tosca ranks with the best. Crespin is in superior vocal form, the command of her uniquely colored instrument impressive at both ends of the quantity spectrum, with a wealth of intermediate stages to augment expression....the voice possesses a marvelous bloom, its timbre creamy and full, even at half voice....At the precise moment when she demands to know Scarpia's price ('Quanto' uttered low in the chest, like Milanov), Crespin's Tosca is transformed. She changes from woman to negotiator - one can hear her adopt a bargaining stance. One regrets this Tosca's fate more than most."
- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, pp.437-38
"To be sure, one of the remarkable assets of Crespin's singing was the power and size of the voice. She could compete on even grounds with Nilsson when they sang together in DIE WALKURE, and with Corelli in WERTHER.
But there was much, much more to Crespin than sheer visceral impact. She sang with subtlety, a variety of colors depending on the demands of the music and the dramatic moment, and always with real involvement. Her singing was filled with nuance, with a wide range of dynamic shading, and was always founded on a beautiful glowing tone."
- Henry Fogel, Program Notes, Immortal Performances Set [V2547]
"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 debut 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 debut 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
“The Italian tenor Gianni Raimondi had a prestigious career lasting three decades. From 1956 to 1976 he sang frequently at La Scala, where his partner a number of times during the early years was Maria Callas. His voice, smooth and warm in tone with a good coloratura facility and very strong top notes, was ideal for 19th-century Italian opera from Rossini and Donizetti to Verdi and Puccini and he rarely sang anything outside that repertory, apart from a few French rôles and a couple of modern operas.”
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 27 Oct., 2008
“Gabriel Bacquier was a leading twentieth century baritone, especially in roles in his native French. He was noted for his sophisticated and natural acting style, his smooth, warm voice, and his remarkable endurance. His studies at the Paris Conservatoire were unusually successful: he won three first prizes in student voice competitions there. As a result he quickly obtained a regular operatic job, joining the Compagnie Lyrique in 1950. From this privately owned opera company, he moved in 1952 to join the company of La Monnaie, the main opera house in Brussels. He returned to Paris in 1955 to join the Opéra-Comique in 1956. Two years later he joined the Opéra de Paris, débuting there as Germont, Sr., in LA TRAVIATA.
He gained a reputation as a serious, reliable singer, willing and able to take both comic and serious roles, and parts ranging from supporting characters to leads. Although he had a wide range, he was especially effective in the more lyric baritone parts and was one of the leading Mozart singers of his generation, yet he was able convincingly to sing such dramatic parts as Simon Boccanegra and Boris Godunov.
He began to make appearances abroad in the 1960s, particularly in England, where he débuted as the Count in Mozart's MARRIAGE OF FIGARO in 1962 and as Riccardo in Bellini's I PURITANI in 1964. The same year he first sang at the Metropolitan in New York, where he also became a favorite performer, frequently appearing on the national Saturday broadcasts.
In his fifties, Bacquier notably improved, gaining power and expressivity in his voice. At the same time he refined his acting technique, becoming known for avoiding the stock operatic gestures meant to portray villainy, or the buffoonery used in comic roles. His characters thus had a quality of realism that made their evil, heroism, wit, or foolishness seem natural and thus more effective. This particularly showed itself in his four, differentiated portrayals in the ‘adversary’ roles of Offenbach's LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN.
In addition to his Mozart roles (especially the Count), his ‘signature rôle’ was that of Scarpia in TOSCA, which he played with suave, even charming, external manners that made his underlying evil even more frightening. He was the leading baritone for French opera and for Italian operas written originally in French, such as Rossini's GUILLAUME TELL and Meyerbeer's LES HUGUENOTS.
He was also a fine interpreter of French chanson in recital, particularly the songs of Satie, Ravel, and de Severac. In the 1990s, when he was in his seventies, he scored a notable success as the King of Clubs in the Lyons Opera's French production of Prokofiev's LOVE OF THREE ORANGES under the baton of Kent Nagano, a production also made into a highly acclaimed recording.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com