De Reszke, Jean (actually, Jan Mieczislaw)

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De Reszke, Jean (actually, Jan Mieczislaw)

De Reszke, Jean (actually, Jan Mieczis- law), celebrated Polish tenor, brother of Edouard de Reszke and Josephine de Reszke; b. Warsaw, Jan. 14, 1850; d. Nice, April 3, 1925. His mother gave him his first singing lessons; he then studied with Ciaffei and Cotogni. He sang at the Warsaw Cathedral as a boy; then went to Paris, where he studied with Sbriglia. He was first trained as a baritone, and made his debut in Venice (1874) as Alfonso in La Favorite under the name of Giovanni di Reschi. He continued singing in Italy and France in baritone parts; his first appearance as a tenor took place in Madrid on Nov. 9,1879, in Robert le Diable. He created the title role in Massenet’s Le Cid at the Paris Opéra (Nov. 30,1885) and became a favorite tenor there. He appeared at Drury Lane in London as Radames on June 13, 1887 (having previously sung there as a baritone in 1874). He then sang at Covent Garden (until 1900). On Nov. 9, 1891, he made his American debut in Chicago as Lohengrin; he made his Metropolitan Opéra debut in N.Y. on Dec. 14, 1891, as Romeo; he remained with the Metropolitan for 11 seasons. In order to sing Wagnerian roles, he learned German, and made a sensationally successful appearance as Tristan (N.Y., Nov. 27, 1895). His last appearance at the Metropolitan was as Tristan on April 29, 1901, in Act 2 during a post-season gala performance. The secret of his success rested not so much on the power of his voice (some baritone quality remained in his singing to the end) as on his controlled interpretation, musical culture, and fine dynamic balance. When he retired from the stage in 1902, settling in Paris as a voice teacher, he was able to transmit his method to many of his students, several of whom later became famous on the Opéra stage.


C. Leiser, j. d.R. and the Great Days of opéra (London, 1933).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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De Reszke, Jean (actually, Jan Mieczislaw)

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