Régine Crespin. A great. And as Didon she has no rival. Only a few weeks ago I saw Anna Caterina Antonacci sing this very aria and while it was a mesmerising and musically intelligent performance, Ms Crespin’s performance is in a league of it’s own.
Again I wouldn’t say that Ms Crespin has a “beautiful” voice but it has character and presence and is coupled with incredible technique. From the opening bars she projects Didon’s frustration and sadness. Have the words “mourir” and “immense” ever been said with such conviction and with such weight and clarity for example? And throughout her single-minded focus on the words is vital and alive with dramatic intensity, moving Berlioz’ recitative forward inextricably forward.
The subsequent aria, Adieu, fière cite opens with a wistful, almost nostalgic lilt as I have never heard since. Each and every “adieu” is invested with real emotional weight. Each and every phrase is beautifully moulded and rendered as if by a skilled craftsman culminating in the closing section, again the lilt as Aux nuits d’ivresse and the final floating “finie”.
This isn’t just a memorable and immensely enjoyable moment of the highest standard of music making. It’s a masterclass in great performance.