Régine Crespin, French Falcon soprano

Before introducing Régine Crespin, I want to describe what a Falcon soprano is. The term “Falcon” comes from Marie Cornélie Falcon, a French singer who lived from 1814–1897. Roles that demand a combination of dramatic soprano and dramatic mezzo-soprano are now referred to as “falcon,” a term borrowed from Marie Cornélie Falcon because she sang so many roles that overlapped between the soprano and mezzo-soprano voice.

Ms. Crespin was born on February 23, 1927 and died on July 5, 2007. Crespin made her Lyric and Met debuts in 1962. Substituting for the ailing Renata Tebaldi in the title role of Puccini’s “Tosca” in Chicago, Crespin scored a triumph with the public and press.

Crespin went on to prove her versatility in other parts. Among many other, she sang Amelia in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera,” Leonore in Beethoven’s “Fidelio” and Elisabeth in Wagner’s “Tannhauser.” She assumed the dual role of the Prima Donna and Ariadne in Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos”.

She well known and admired for her performances in the French and German repertoire, including large, dramatic Wagner roles.

Il est doux, il est bon, Salomé’s aria from Hérodiade

Phanuel…sans cesse…je cherche ma mère!
Une voix me criait: espère!
Cours à Jérusalem!
Je ne l’ai pas trouvée hélas!
Et je reste seule ici-bas!
Celui dont la parole efface toutes peines,
Le Prophète est ici! c’est vers lui que je vais!

Il est doux, il est bon, sa parole est sereine:
Il parle… tout se tait…
Plus léger sur la plaine
L’air attentif passe sans bruit…
Il parle…

Ah! quand reviendra-t-il? quand pourrai-je l’entendre?
Je souffrais… j’étais seule et mon coeur s’est calmé
En écoutant sa voix mélodieuse et tendre,
Mon coeur s’est calmé!

Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!
Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre… vivre sans toi!
C’est là! dans ce désert où la foule étonnée
Avait suivi ses pas,

Qu’il m’accueillit un jour, enfant abandonnée!
Et qu’il m’ouvrit ses bras!
Il est doux, il est bon,
Sa parole est sereine,
Il parle… tout se tait… plus léger sur la plaine…
L’air attentif passe sans bruit…
Il parle!

Ah! quand reviendra-t-il?
Quand pourrai-je l’entendre?
Je souffrais… j’étais seule et mon coeur s’est calmé
En écoutant sa voix mélodieuse et tendre,
Mon coeur s’est calmé!

Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!
Prophète bien aimé, puis-je vivre… vivre sans toi!
Ah! quand reviendra-t-il? quand pourrai-je l’entendre!
Prophète bien-aimé, puis-je vivre sans toi!

He is kind, he is good, Salomé’s aria from Massenet’s Herodiade

Phanuel, without stopping, I am looking for my mother!
A voice has been crying out to me: hope!
Run to Jerusalem!
I did not find her, alas!
He whose words remove all pain,
The Prophet is here! It is toward him that I go!

He is kind, he is good. His words are peaceful:
He speaks . . .everything is quiet
Everything is lighter on the plain
The attentive air goes by without a sound . . .
He speaks . . .

Ah, when will he return? When might I hear him?
I was suffering . . .I was alone and my heart calmed itself
While listening to his melodious and tender voice,
My heart calmed itself!

Beloved prophet, can I live without you!
Beloved prophet, can I live . . .live without you!
It is there! in the desert where the astonished crowd
Had followed his steps,

That he greeted me one day, an abandoned child!
And he opened his arms to me!
He is kind, he is good,
His words are peaceful,
He speaks, everything is quiet . . .lighter on the plain
The attentive air goes by without a sound
He speaks!

Ah, when will he return?
When could I hear him?
I was suffering . . .I was alone, and my heart calmed itself
While listening to his melodious and tender voice,
My heart calmed itself!

Beloved prophet, can I live without you!
Beloved prophet, can I live . . live without you!
Ahm when will he return? When might I hear him!
Beloved prophet, can I live without you!

Le spectre de la rose
Théophile Gautier

Soulève ta paupière close
Qu’effleure un songe virginal;
Je suis le spectre d’une rose
Que tu portais hier au bal.
Tu me pris encore emperlée
Des pleurs d’argent de l’arrosoir,
Et parmi le fête étoilée
Tu me promenas tout le soir.

Ô toi, qui de ma mort fus cause,
Sans que tu puisses le chasser,
Toutes les nuits mon spectre rose
À ton chevet viendra danser.
Mais ne crains rien, je ne réclame
Ni messe ni De profundis;
Ce léger parfum est mon âme,
Et j’arrive du paradis.

Mon destin fut digne d’envie:
Et pour avoir un sort si beau,
Plus d’un aurait donné sa vie,
Car sur ton sein j’ai mon tombeau,
Et sur l’albâtre où je repose
Un poëte avec un baiser
Écrivit: Ci-gît une rose
Que tous les rois vont jalouser.

The spectre of the rose

Open your closed eyelids,
Brushed by a virginal dream;
I am the spectre of a rose
That yesterday you wore at the ball.
You plucked me still sprinkled
With silvery tears of dew,
And amid the starry fête
You walked me around all evening long.

O you were the cause of my death,
You shall not be able to banish me:
Every night my rosy phantom
Will come to dance at your bedside.
But be not afraid – I require
Neither Mass nor De Profundis;
This light perfume is my soul,
And I come from Paradise.

My destiny was worthy of envy;
And for such a beautiful fate,
Many would have given their lives –
For my tomb is on your breast,
And on the alabaster where I lie,
A poet with a kiss
Wrote: Here lies a rose
Of which all kings with envy.

Après un rêve

Fauré (1865)

Dans un sommeil que charmait ton image
Je rêvais le bonheur, ardent mirage;
Tes yeux était plus doux, ta voix pure et sonore,
Tu rayonnais comme un ciel éclairé par l’aurore.

Tu m’appelais et je quittais la terre
Pour m’enfuir avec toi vers la lumière;
Les cieux pour nous, entr’ouvraient leurs nues,
Splendeurs inconnues, lueurs divines entrevues…

Hélas! Hélas, triste réveil des songes!
Je t’appelle, ô nuit, rends-moi tes mensonges;
Reviens, reviens radieuse,
Reviens, ô nuit mystérieuse!

After a dream

In sleep enchanted by your image
I dreamed of happiness, fervent illusion,
Your eyes were softer, your voice pure and sonorous,
You shone like a sky that was lit by the dawn;

You called me and I left the earth
To flee with you toward the light,
The heavens parted their clouds for us,
Splendours, celestial fires.

Alas, alas, sad awakening from dreams!
I call you, O night, give me back your lies;
Return, return in radiance,
Return, O mysterious night!

Au bord de l’eau
Sully Prudhomme

S’asseoir tous deux au bord d’un flot qui passe,
Le voir passer;
Tous deux, s’il glisse un nuage en l’espace,
Le voir glisser;
À l’horizon, s’il fume un toit de chaume,
Le voir fumer;
Aux alentours si quelque fleur embaume,
S’en embaumer;
Entendre au pied du saule où l’eau murmure
L’eau murmurer;
Ne pas sentir, tant que ce rêve dure,
Le temps durer;
Mais n’apportant de passion profonde
Qu’à s’adorer,
Sans nul souci des querelles du monde,
Les ignorer;
Et seuls, tous deux devant tout ce qui lasse,
Sans se lasser,
Sentir l’amour, devant tout ce qui passe,
Ne point passer!

Au bord de l’eau

To sit together on the bank of a flowing stream,
To watch it flow;
Together, if a cloud runs by,
To watch it glide;
On the horizon, if smoke rises from thatched cottage,
To watch it smoke;
If nearby a flower scents the air,
To smell its scent;
To listen at the foot of the willow, where water murmurs,
To the murmuring water;
Not to feel, while this dream passes,
Time lasting;
But feeling no deep passion,
Except to adore each other,
With no cares for the quarrels of the world,
To ignore them;
And alone we two, seeing all that tires,
Without tiring,
To feel love, in front of all that passes,
And not pass!

Régine Crespin

Crespin was a Falcon soprano. She was well known for dramatic opera roles as well as mélodie and Lieder. She was also was a renowned Marschallin in Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier,” making her Met debut in that role in 1962 and later recording it under Georg Solti. She also recorded Sieglinde in Wagner’s “Die Walkure” as part of that conductor’s complete Wagner “Ring” cycle for London Decca.

After a series of medical and personal problems nearly ended her career in the early 1970s, she rebuilt her voice from scratch, moving into the mezzo-soprano repertory.

Her primary American operatic bases were the Met and San Francisco Operas, where she gave her farewell performances in 1987. After her retirement from singing, she was widely recognized as a voice teacher.

Born in 1927 in Marseilles, Mr. Crespin had a difficult childhood with an alcoholic mother and a perfectionist father. Only because she failed the entrance exams for college at 16 did her father permit her to study voice, eventually at the Paris Conservatory. Prominent successes at regional houses in France led to engagements at the Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany, from 1958 to 1960. She died in 2007 in Paris.