Regina Resnik - Dramatic Scenes & Arias
Regina Resnik had the grand manner. When she was on stage, no matter who her partners were, it was Resnik you watched. This two-CD tribute is made up with items from various complete sets to augment her only solo recital LP, with Sir Edward Downes conducting the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, recorded in London in 1961. Resnik sang many of her signature roles at Covent Garden.
Her Carmen is fatalistic from the first words – there is little coquetry about this cigarette girl. The card scene has a measured intensity and the final duet – taken from the complete set under Schippers – has Mario del Monaco, magnificent in his murderous rage. Dalila would have seemed a natural for Resnik, but she never sang the part on stage; her ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ is as sensual as her account of Azucena, telling the story of burning the wrong baby, is tormented. The long scene from the Rostropovitch Pique Dame includes Resnik’s touching solo, the little Grétry song ‘Je crains de lui parler la nuit’.
Although it doesn’t say so in the accompanying booklet, which includes an interview with Resnik talking to George Hall, this set was planned to mark her 80th birthday last year. Better late than never, it celebrates a remarkable career that began in 1942 (Lady Macbeth) and continued well into the 1980s. The songs from Kismet, and the campy Merry Widow ensemble fill the story out: Resnik had a career on Broadway, too.
Perhaps the roles most closely associated with her are Mistress Quickly in Falstaff and Klytemnestra in Elektra. From an LP of extracts, also conducted by Downes, comes the ‘Reverenza’ duet, with Fernando Corena as a subtle, never blustering Falstaff. The sequence ends with the Klytemnestra-Elektra confrontation. Those who saw Resnik and Nilsson in this, with Solti conducting, may agree that it was about as thrilling a scene you could ever hope to witness in an opera house. Resnik’s hysterical laughter and her cries of ‘Lichter’ may be inauthentic (the words do not appear in the libretto), but who cares? She didn’t play Klytemnestra as an hysteric, but as a deeply disturbed, wounded woman, seeking peace of mind. After every performance, the whole of Floral Street in Covent Garden was packed with members of the audience, too excited to go home, just waiting to see Solti and the cast leave the stage door, and give them one more cheer.