Personalities | Jean de Reszke | High Romantic | Opera
Jean de Reszke was a Polish tenor whose handsome face and fine physique suited him for romantic roles. He made his debut at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in 1874, not as a tenor, but in the baritone part of Alfonso in Donizetti’s La favorite. He continued to sing baritone roles until he re-trained and made his tenor debut in Madrid in 1879, in Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable. This was not particularly successful, but later, in 1884, de Reske triumphed as John the Baptist in Jules Massenet’s (1842–1912) Hérodiade. He continued to sing tenor roles at the Opéra in Paris (1885–1902), Covent Garden, London (1888–1900) and the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (1891–1901). Unfortunately, the versatility that enabled him to sing demanding parts within a few days of each other – Lohengrin and Faust, for example – overstrained his voice and forced him to retire in 1902.
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