[Met Performance] CID:130150
Lakmé {46} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/14/1940.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 14, 1940


LAKMÉ {46}
Delibes-Gondinet/Gille

Lakmé...................Lily Pons
Gérald..................Raoul Jobin
Mallika.................Irra Petina
Frédéric................George Cehanovsky
Nilakantha..............Ezio Pinza
Hadji...................John Carter
Ellen...................Annamary Dickey
Rose....................Pearl Besuner
Mrs. Bentson............Helen Olheim
Fortuneteller...........Lodovico Oliviero
Merchant................John Dudley
Thief...................Wilfred Engelman
Dance...................Ruthanna Boris
Dance...................Monna Montes
Dance...................Lillian Moore
Dance...................Grant Mouradoff

Conductor...............Wilfred Pelletier

Director................Désiré Defrère
Set designer............Joseph Novak
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the Herald Tribune

'Lakmé' Is Sung As Benefit at Metropolitan

Lily Pons in the Title Role Scales Vocal Altitudes in Second Act Bell Song

Delibes's "Lakmé" had its first presentation here in a benefit performance on March 1, 1886 at the Academy of Music, and has served a philanthropic purpose of many more recent dates, including last night, when it was sung at the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time this season under the auspices of the New York Chapter of Hadassah for the benefit of medical and relief work in Palestine. The hapless Hindu girl of the title role, (who as the The New York Tribune's reviewer observed in 1886, has a fatal knowledge of tropical botany) was Lily Pons, leading a new Gerald, Raoul Jobin, temporarily from the path of military duty.

"Lakmé" first reached the Metropolitan in 1890, and was revived there in 1892, 1906, and 1917, but despite the successive efforts of Adelina Patti, Marie Van Zandt, Marcella Sembrich and Maria Barrientos, never got a firm foothold in the repertoire until Mme. Pons first sang the Bell Song in 1932. It has only missed one season since. Her impersonation of Lakmé continues to maintain its drawing power at the box office; it is attractive to the eye, if not set forth with unusual dramatic power, and appealing to the ear.

She was not always in her best voice last night, but, after a somewhat pallidly sung first act, she presented the Bell Song in the next scene with tonal fluency and evenness and scaled its vocal altitudes successfully. Mr. Jobin's voice when advantageously used, has a pleasing timbre; his tone, however, was not invariably well focused or free from whiteness, although it gained in clarity as the opera ran its course. Ezio Pinza, whose voice, employed the evening before in Mozart's music, seemed slightly fatigued, represented the minatory Nilakantha effectively, while George Cehanovsky sang creditably as Frederic.

Annamary Dickey and Pearl Besuner were the two English girls, with Helen Olheim as their governess; John Carter was the Hadji, and Lodovico Oliviero, John Dudley and Wilfred Engleman completed the cast. The Hindu dances would have gained in local color if the members of the ballet had been darker skinned. As it was apart from the costumes, one thought less of Hindus than of American or Europeans who had come to the seaside too early in the season to acquire a sun tan.

The music, as before, impresses as fluently melodious, if not particularly distinguished. Its appeal is best maintained by not hearing it too often. It received a well coordinated interpretation under the direction of Wilfred Pelletier. There was a large audience.



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