International opera star;
Born August 30, 1922; Died August 8, 2013.
Regina Resnik, who has died aged 90, was one of the most enduring stars of the New York Metropolitan, whose change of voice from soprano to mezzo-soprano in 1955 enabled her to extend her already substantial operatic repertoire into the rich new realm of roles which became available to her.
Having already sung Aida in Verdi's opera at the Met and elsewhere, she seized her opportunity to switch to the villainous (and more interesting) Amneris in the same work. Her portrayal of Alice Ford in Falstaff similarly led to her grandly characterised and meticulously enunciated Mistress Quickly, which she sang with vivid humour, and to deserved acclaim, at Covent Garden.
But it was above all her Carmen - a triumph at Covent Garden in 1957 - and her decadently histrionic Klytemnestra in Strauss's Elektra which displayed her adjusted voice in all its colour.
In the latter role, too, she appeared at Covent Garden, famously recording it for Sir Georg Solti. Though many of her new parts were inevitably secondary ones - such tends to be the fate of operatic mezzo sopranos - she showed that she could transform them, through the splendour of her voice and her powerful stage presence, into star vehicles.
Born in New York of Ukrainian immigrant parents, she grew up in the Bronx and graduated in ~ music from Hunter College in 1942. Success followed fast. She sang Verdi's Lady Macbeth almost immediately for the New Opera Company, New York, under the conductorship of Fritz Busch, later to become Glyndebourne's music director in Sussex. "I had the gift of a very strong throat," she said of this early portrayal.
Her throat served her even better in Mexico, where she sang Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio and Micaela in Carmen for Erich Kleiber. Soon afterwards, the New York Metropolitan gave her the chance to replace an ailing Zinka Milanov as Verdi's Leonora in Il Trovatore at the age of 22. Within days of her success she also replaced Milanov as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, and once again sang Beethoven's Leonore, this time under the conductorship of the great Bruno Walter.
Firmly estabished at the Met, where in all she sang 20 soprano parts, she went on to portray Ellen Orford in the New York premiere of Britten's Peter Grimes and to extend her repertoire with Eboli in Don Carlos and Sieglinde in Die Walkure. Bayreuth having by now got to hear of her, she was offered the same role in 1951 and that of Fricka in 1961, repeating both of these at La Scala, Milan, in subsequent years.
Her mostly American career had now gone fully international. Vienna, Salzburg and Stratford, Ontario, where she sang the title role in The Rape of Lucretia, all sought her services.
Though Scotland was never her scene, she joined two Scottish singers, Kenneth McKellar and Ian Wallace, in a Decca recording of Kismet, based on Borodin's music.
By 1987, now in her middle sixties, she was displaying her acting talent on Broadway in a production of Cabaret, followed in 1990 by Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.
She had by then already moved into opera direction with a Carmen at the Hamburg State Opera and an Elektra in Venice and Madrid. Master classes on the art of interpretation filled other moments in her still active career.
She is survived by a son from her first marriage, to the lawyer Harry Davis, which ended in divorce.
Her second husband, the painter and designer Arbit Blatas with whom she frequently worked, died in 1999.
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