When considering Crespin and Wagner, one first thinks of Sieglinde and Kundry, roles she performed at Bayreuth and across the globe. Of course, there is also her controversial Die Walküre Brünnhilde which she recorded with Herbert von Karajan and performed on stage only in Salzburg and at the Met.

In 1963 Crespin sang a single Met Senta opposite George London, her only local appearance in the role until today’s performance. Later that year her Elisabeth arrived in Chicago during her second season there just after her only US performances of Leonore in Fidelio. That same season, she’d perform Elsa at the Met. After that, she never again performed either Tannhäuser or Lohengrin in the US.

In typical Bing-era scheduling madness, between January 19 and February 29, 1968, Crespin sang three performances of Tosca, in addition to three Sentas and two of her three local Walküre Brünnhildes! All in all, between 1963 and 1970 Crespin gave 25 performances of five Wagner roles at the Met. Her first Wagner in the US, by the way, was a single Sieglinde in Philadelphia in January 1963.

Just 26 years old, Grace Bumbry appears as Crespin’s Tannhäuser two years after her historic Bayreuth debut as Venus. Cornell MacNeil might seem a surprising choice for the Dutchman but he performed it, his only role in German at the Met, seven times there. Leonie Rysanek, not Crespin, got the season premiere with MacNeil, however, as well as the broadcast.

On a personal note, Ticho Parly, today’s Erik, starred in my first Wagner. I was 13, the opera was Lohengrin and I remember almost nothing about it other than the cast also included Jean Fenn, Nell Rankin and Walter Cassel. At dinner with Paul Plishka several years ago, I was astonished to learn that he was my Heinrich, a role he never sang again.

Be forewarned that the sound quality of both of these in-house recordings is challenging, particularly some overloading in the Holländer.

Wagner: Tannhäuser (the overture is missing)

Elisabeth: Régine Crespin
Venus: Grace Bumbry
Junger Hirt: Jeanne Diamond
Tannhäuser: Dimiter Uzunov
Wolfram: Raymond Wolansky
Landgraf Herrmann: William Wildermann
Walther: Carlo Cossutta
Biterolf: Renato Cesari
Heinrich: Richard Carl Knoll
Reinmar: Malcolm Smith

Conductor: Oscar Danon

Lyric Opera of Chicago
18 November 1963
In-house recording

Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer

Senta: Régine Crespin
Mary: Nancy Williams
Dutchman: Cornell MacNeil
Erik: Ticho Parly
Daland: Giorgio Tozzi
Steersman: William Olvis

Conductor: Berislav Klobucar

Metropolitan Opera
19 January 1968
In-house recording

Both works can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Another all-Wagner Chris’s Cache will arrive before Christmas.