Opera Scotland

Regina Resnik Suggest updates

Regina Resnick.

Born New York, 30 August 1922.

Died New York, 8 August 2013.

American soprano, later mezzo-soprano. Also a director.

Regina Resnik will probably be remembered for the roles she performed in the later part of her singing career, when her magnetic personality made her a notable interpreter of mezzo roles both comic (Mistress Quickly) and serious (Herodias, Klytämnestra). Earlier, she appeared as a lyric soprano at both the Met and Bayreuth, and became a noted interpreter of Carmen.

Born in the Bronx to Ukrainian immigrant parents, she studied music at Hunter College. She quickly made her debut as a soloist singing Lady Macbeth with the New Opera Company of New York, conducted by Fritz Busch. This success led quickly to performances of Leonore in Fidelio in Mexico City, as well as Micaëla. She then spent a season with New York City Opera before joining the Met in 1944. Her debut role there was Leonora in Il trovatore. The first of more than 300 performances with the company, it was followed by appearances in a range of roles embracing Mozart (both Anna and Elvira), Verdi (Aïda), Puccini (Tosca, Butterfly) and Britten (Ellen Orford).

Mature years and roles

Towards the mid-fifties she began to restudy as a mezzo. Her first appearance in this new guise was in 1956 at the Met, as Marina in Boris Godunov. Later roles at the house included Carmen, Amneris, Eboli and Mistress Quickly, as well as the Baroness in Barber's Vanessa, which she created in 1958. She also sang Klytämnestra and the old Countess in The Queen of Spades. Her roles at San Francisco included Claire Zachanassian in Einem's Visit of the Old Lady in 1972.

Appearances in European houses began in 1953, still as a soprano, singing Sieglinde at Bayreuth under Klemens Krauss. Her later Bayreuth appearances in 1961 were as Fricka, with Rudolf Kempe conducting. Further appearances took her to Paris, Marseilles, Milan, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and Hamburg. It was with that last company that she visited Edinburgh in 1968. Her British debut was in 1957, when she sang Carmen at Covent Garden - with Vickers (Don José), Sutherland (Micaëla) and William Dickie (Escamillo).  She returned many times in Elektra and the famous Zeffirelli staging of Falstaff.

Her third operatic career was as a director. Her first production, at Hamburg in 1971, was of Carmen, with Plácido Domingo as Don José, and designed by her second husband, Arbit Blatas. She went on to direct productions in Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, Canada and Australia. Later on she appeared in Broadway musicals such as Kander and Ebb's Cabaret and Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and was a highly respected teacher.


Resnik's recordings make a memorable group, including the original cast of Vanessa. With Solti she did Brangäne and Klytämnestra - both recordings have Birgit Nilsson in the lead.

She recorded Carmen under Thomas Schippers, with Sutherland as Micaëla, and Mistress Quickly under Bernstein, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Resnik also sings Herodias on a recording that features Montserrat Caballé as Salome, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf.

In 1970 she appeared as Popova in a BBC TV studio recording of The Bear, conducted by Walton himself. Sadly, this has never been made available in any commercial format.

Roles in Scotland

Klytämnestra widow of Agamemnon
Elektra 1968

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha