The American soprano, and a keen pilot and flying instructor, Kristine Ciesinski has been killed in a glider accident in the Grand Teton National Park in Utah where she lived with her husband, the British bass-baritone Norman Bailey. She was 65.
A singer with a very wide repertoire, embracing many 20th-century roles, Ciesinski sang in some of the world’s great houses including La Scala, the Opéra de Paris, the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, English National Opera, La Monnaie, the Mariinsky Theatre, Oper Frankfurt and the Bavarian State Opera.
Ciesinski began her vocal studies at Boston University, going on to study with a number of teachers including Gerald Moore (1990-96) and, at the Guildhall School of Music, Iain Burnside. Her most performed roles were Katerina in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Richard Strauss’s Salome, a part she sang in 18 different productions.
Unusually, her sister, Katherine, was also a fine singer and they both, in consecutive years (1977 and 1978), won the Geneva International Music Competition. In the same year (1977), Kristine also won first prize in the International Opera Competition in Salzburg.
Ciesinski released few recordings but she made a fine impression as Anna Maurant in Scottish Opera’s production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, subsequently recorded by TER, a set that met direct competition from Decca’s recording under John Mauceri: ‘Kristine Ciesinski may sound too young for Anna Maurrant, but her more natural style of delivery seems to me far more suitable for this work,’ wrote Andrew Lamb, comparing the two, in Gramophone. She can also be seen on DVD in the 1996 Frankfurt Opera production of Berg’s Wozzeck conducted by Sylvain Cambreling.
Kristine Ciesinski: born July 5, 1952; died June 9, 2018