[Met Performance] CID:121410
Lucia di Lammermoor {181} Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/8/1937.


Boston, Massachusetts
April 8, 1937


Lucia...................Lily Pons
Edgardo.................Frederick Jagel
Enrico..................Carlo Morelli
Raimondo................Norman Cordon
Normanno................Giordano Paltrinieri
Alisa...................Thelma Votipka
Arturo..................Nicholas Massue

Conductor...............Gennaro Papi

Review of Moses Smith in the Boston Evening Transcript

'Lucia di Lammermoor' with Lily Pons Unerringly Leading the Way

The so-called ravages of time are not yet apparent on the visage of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," if the pragmatic test of popularity be employed. After a hundred years, this opera continues to enjoy a wide vogue, although countless operas, successfully produced long after "Lucia," have long since gone out of fashion. Last night, at the Boston Opera House, where, with "Tales of Hoffmann" in the afternoon, "Lucia" afforded a breathing spell before the unfolding of the ultimate verities of "Götterdämmerung" this evening, the audience that crowded the theater manifestly took as deep a zest in the enjoyment of the proceedings as other audiences, by report, have displayed before the several Wagnerian performances.

Tastes are not to be disputed, and here it is unquestionably a matter of taste. The "why" of the favor in which "Lucia" is held, though, is an interesting question which cannot, of course, be settled in a brief review. One guess - offered without amplification - is that "Lucia" attracts contemporary opera-goers primarily because of the celebrated "Mad Scene" and secondarily because of the almost equally celebrated and certainly well-known Sextet.

The Sextet, not to detail now its unquestioned musical and dramatic merits, is popular that almost any kind of performance will stir the great majority of audiences. Last night's presentation had some good points, but as a whole was scarcely an outstanding success. But it stopped the show as always.

The "Mad Scene" on the other hand, is a tricky delicate affair, which would seem to demand vocal perfection if it is to make its effect. Yet here, too, audiences seem to be satisfied with any kind of performance short of disaster. The roulades and the long-sustained effort on the part of the singer seem to invite applause no matter how badly they are done.

When a performance of the "Mad Scene" is actually good, however, audiences are quick enough to show their appreciation of the fact. Last night, with Lily Pons in the title role, the "Mad Scene" received a capital performance, in the course of which Miss Pons scarcely varied for a moment from the precise pitch. At almost every turn, furthermore, Miss Pons was singing rather than vocalizing, which meant that her performance was gratefully free from the obvious effort that turns an expressive coloratura air into a vocal exercise.

The customary demonstration on the part of the audience occurred midway in the Scene. At the conclusion, with the curtains drawn, the audience broke forth into as prolonged, noisy and manifestly enthusiastic a round of applause and cheering as the present attestant can recall in the Boston Opera House. There was no fake about this demonstration, and no spinning out for the sake of showmanship. On the contrary Miss Pons's modest demeanor discouraged prolongation.

It is a pleasure to be able to report that Miss Pons, who has her good nights and others that are not so good, was an exemplary singer throughout her share of last night's performance. Exemplary, at least, in the matters of expressiveness and sure vocal effect, if not entirely in the matter style. She did some admirable singing in the first act, for example, where routine performance can be a bore.

The rest of the presentation followed Miss Pons's lead more or less successfully. Frederick Jagel was a capital Edgardo, turning his talents to surprisingly good account in the Italian song. Carlo Morelli's Ashton was more routine in character. Of the other principal roles, Norman Cordon sang the Raimondo, Nicolas Massue the Arturo, Thelma Votipka the Alisa and Giordano Paltrinieri the Normanno. Ezio Pinza, who had been originally announced in the cast, regrettably did not put in an appearance.

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