On Stage, Off Stage: A Memoir

Regine Crespin, Author, G. S. Bourdain, Translator, G. S. Bourdian, Translator Northeastern University Press $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-55553-328-1
Crespin, one of the few truly international vocal stars France has produced in this century, has written her own unvarnished story, and although it has its share of self-satisfied, preening moments, like any diva's reminiscences, it also discloses an unusually frank and open personality. Crespin was born in Provence to a half-Italian family, and her loving memories of her Italian grandmother (her immediate family was inadequate, to put it mildly) clearly anchored her life, giving her a perpetual point of reference in times of stress. There were plenty of these, including no fewer than three long-lasting but ultimately unhappy affairs, an abortion, and two separate bouts with cancer. It seems strange that someone so enormously self-disciplined in her professional life--and one of her most interesting chapters is devoted to the technique of singing, and the pressures on an opera star--should have been so naive and easily led in her personal one. Crespin had comparatively few roles with which she was strongly identified--Der Rosenkavalier, Sieglinde in The Ring, Carmen, Tosca, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites--but made each very much her own; and she was a superb recitalist. Her international eminence lasted no more than 15 years (she has been teaching for the past 20), but her voice, and the direct earthiness of her stage presence made her unforgettable. This is just the kind of memoir her admirers might have expected. Discography, illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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