RERI GRIST “In Celebration” A CD TRIBUTE (all photos courtesy Charles Mintzer)

 I heard Reri Grist (born 1932) for the first time on the complete 1967 Rigoletto recording  under Molinari-Pradelli. The first (and last time) I heard her live was at the Amsterdam opera which must have been her last operatic appearance anywhere too. It was a worthless piece of musical boredom by Morton Feldman called ‘Neither’ and Grist didn’t impress me at all, mind you she managed the acrobatic mish mash note jumping still rather well but it sounded all too monotonous and studied. Probably more the composer’s fault than hers and I pitied her that she had to study all that crap to get an assignment at that stage of her career. It also says a lot about her ability to conquer impossible scores.
So I was more than happy to receive this 3 cd box –sent to me by our collaborator Leslie Mickelson- enabling me to discover a wonderful coloratura talent and dedicated artist.
grsit2 (Adina)   grist3 (Olympia)
Let’s start with the second CD which offers live excerpts from a 1973 Rigoletto with Pavarotti (an improvement on Gedda in this role) and Ingvar Wixell (an improvement on the aging McNeill as well) in the main roles. Grist delivers her Gilda with a silvery produced voice. The phrasing is clear. She’s technically sure and she handles the part without any difficulty. The light, bright voice isn’t big but projects well and she stands up her woman against Wixell’s sturdy (and impressive) outbursts. Apart from her finely trained voice and being an accomplished musician she was also an actress of great charm as shown by the dvd releases she appears in.
The first CD is made up of arias and scenes taken from several concerts and b’casts from 1968 till 1978.
The superb Zerbinetta is there but also a wonderful Manon, a delightful (Rossini’s) Rosina,  a wonderfully controlled Lakmé, an attractive (Donizetti’s) Norina amongst others but also arias by Kalman, Léhar and Ziehrer. Her flexible and agile singing wonderfully suited to this repertoire. The third CD is devoted to a marathon recital -22 lieder and 4 encores !- taped at Graz in 1974.  The recital includes Purcell, Schumann,  Debussy and Strauss. As far as I know a repertory she never recorded and proof of her versatility. No spirituals though. I wonder if she ever sing those?
(Vienna 1981: Patricia Wise, the late Marcel Prawy and Leonard Bernstein and Reri Grist)
The leaflet included with the box limits itself to the content, no biographical notes or photos.
The release is still available through the website of Academy records. The only place you seem to order it from.
More  info can be found on this anonymous but rather well-done webpage :
grist5  grist6
(1967, January 19, Gismondi substituting for Aragall)                                (about ten years ago)