World-famous opera singer Regina Resnik passed away in New York last Friday, August 9. She was born in the same city on August 30, 1922 from Jewish Russian immigrant parents.

She started her career in December 1942, ten months after earning her B.A. in Music at Hunter College. The role was Lady Macbeth under Fritz Busch, with the New Opera Company. A few months later, she sang Fidelio and Micaela under Erich Kleiber in Mexico City.

She won the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1944, and debuted at the Met on December 6, 1944, as a last-minute replacement for Zinka Milanov. The role was Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Other leading roles that Resnik performed during her first season with the Met included the title role in Puccini’s Tosca, Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and Leonora in Fidelio. Personal happiness coincided with public success when, in 1947, Resnik married lawyer Harry W. Davies, with whom she later had a son.

Following the triumph of her first season, Resnik became a leading soprano at the Met. She then also began a long association with the San Francisco Opera and many other opera houses, also in Europe.

Her voice gradually acquired the darker qualities of the lower mezzo-soprano, and she abandoned her large repertoire of soprano roles and learned new mezzo parts that brought out the warm vocal color for which she became famous, especially in Europe. She achieved particular success at Covent Garden in London. She sang Carmen in Vienna under the direction of Herbert von Karajan in 1957 and 1958, followed by performances in Berlin, Paris, and Stuttgart.

The 1970s and 1980s brought new pleasures and successes for Resnik. She married her second husband, painter Arbit Blatas, in 1975, and expanded her creativity to other areas of the opera. In the early 1970s, she began directing opera productions around the world. She has directed twelve productions in total, in San Francisco, Hamburg, Warsaw, Lisbon, Venice, Sydney, and Strasbourg. She explored her Jewish heritage in a documentary on the Venetian ghetto, which aired on public television in the spring of 1983. She also was the presenter of numerous musical broadcasts on television.

She has recorded all her great signature roles: Carmen (Thomas Schippers), Klytemnestra (Georg Solti), Mistress Quickly (Leonard Bernstein), Orlovsky (Herbert von Karajan), Pique Dame Countess (Mstislav Rostropovich) and Sieglinde (Clemens Krauss), among many others.

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