ON STAGE, OFF STAGE by Régine Crespin


A Memoir
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 A breezy, charming walk through the life one of France's most renowned opera singers. Crespin opens her memoir with a bedtime recollection of her Italian grandmother, Mannolini, the person who taught her to love singing. It is an intimate, small moment, the kind of tidbit more likely to be revealed in a gossipy chat with a good friend on a front porch than in a book. It lends a reader-friendly tone that Crespin maintains throughout, making the famous soprano's memoir a light but interesting read. Refreshingly unaffected, Crespin writes honestly of her unhappy childhood with an alcoholic mother and Draconian father, the sexual problems of her first marriage, an abortion and her sadness at never bearing a child, her fear when battling breast cancer, and the mental and emotional problems that once threatened to end her singing career. Crespin is not one to wallow in self-pity, though. The only really bitter moment comes when she writes of the lack of acclaim and recognition she has received in her native France, where she still lives much of the year. Interspersed among the personal memories are descriptions of working with some of the world's best conductors and Crespin's advice to aspiring singers. Ably translated by Bourdain, an editor at the New York Times and good friend of Crespin's, the book includes a discography and a list of the singer's roles and significant performances. Not as substantive as some of the Wagnerian roles Crespin made famous, but a lovely Mozartian memoir nonetheless. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1997
ISBN: 1-55553-328-0
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997