[Met Performance] CID:131700
La Fille du Régiment {33} Matinee ed. Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas: 04/26/1941.


Dallas, Texas
April 26, 1941 Matinee


Marie.......................Lily Pons
Tonio.......................Raoul Jobin
Marquise of Berkenfield.....Irra Petina
Sergeant Sulpice............Salvatore Baccaloni
Hortentius..................Louis D'Angelo
Duchesse of Krakentorp......Maria Savage
Peasant.....................Lodovico Oliviero
Corporal....................Arthur Kent
Notary......................William Fisher
Little Duke.................Alexis Kosloff
Dance.......................Rita Holzer
Dance.......................Josef Levinoff
Dance.......................Lilla Volkova

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

Unsigned review in the Dallas Morning News

Pons Adored By Throng at Matinee Opera

The Lily Pons opera of the year is a prime example of creative showmanship on the part of the Metropolitan management. As coloratura voices and style go today, la Petite Pons is a prima donna asoluta. Her Lucia and Gilda are admirable vocally and pictorially but madness, defloration and suicide by poison are no denouements for a girl with Lilly's eyes, legs and we must say, Lilly's lively torso. Nor is melancholia the best vein for a peppy, beguiling soubrette who can hold her own with any magazine cover girl.

Between operetta and plain opera is early Nineteenth Century opera bouffe, which is serious business vocally but otherwise all in fun. Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment" is a first-class specimen and a hundred years have not deprived the score of all its effervescence. Our grandparents must have heard Jenny Lind and Patti as the vivandiere and our parents probably paid their devoirs to Sembrich and Tetrazzini. Possibly all these legendary and magnificently endowed divas sang Marie's many arias more excitingly than Miss Pons. With their photographs before us, however, we can say that none looked the part as she should and as Miss Pons does. Then none could have played Marie with more plausibility or converted the frail anecdote so successfully into light entertainment for an audience's utter relaxation.

Scenic Atmosphere

The present revival has the advantage of a bantering, tongue-in-cheek "mise-en-scene" that disarms criticism. A special curtain in jolly caricature sets the mood while the orchestra plunks a meaningless overture. The stage pictures are full of whimsy and vivid with grenadier's costumes and baronial finery.

And nothing delights the eye more than Miss Pons in her regimentals, her uncomfortable but dainty palace frock and her good-for-today wedding gown. The vocal duties of Marie are many and almost onerous for the limited stamina of the tiny diva. Her upper register was cloudy and forced during the first act. There were signs of fatigue toward the end but the interim found her in possession of her powers. "Il Faut Partir" of Act II had limpid tone and firm cantabile. "Par le Rang et Par l"Opulence" toward the end of Act III, Scene I was the ablest singing of the afternoon.

The several Rataplans were as zestful in movement as in song and the "Saluta a la France" with the "Marsaillaise" incorporated, brought the throng to its feet. There was more than a tribute to the prima donna in this demonstration.

Mr. Baccaloni

As Sergeant Sulpice, gruff and hearty grenadier, Salvatore Baccaloni showed that exceptional fusion of big voice, avoirdupois and large comic gifts that has made him a sensation of the season. His Dr. Bartolo of the preceding evening's "Marriage of Figaro" was only a sample. Signor Baccaloni is an inspired buffoon who uses his preposterous girth only for what it is worth. His timing, his development of comic business, and a spaci scale of projection are the finest ever seen in opera. Who else could run around the stage with a prima donna on his hip spanking her audience side.

Raoul Jobin, the hero, exhibited important tenor material. When he did not force his top notes he had what Metropolitan tradition calls "the Clement voice," a singular blend of thin line and warm coloring. Mr. Jobin is not the most graceful or stylish actor in the business but he didn't damage the ensemble. The Metropolitan's stage direction has learned what to do with awkward actors or, rather, what not to make them do. Mr. Jobin is another discovery of the radio auditions heard Sundays over Station WFAA and promises to be a valuable member of the company.

As the disdainful marchioness, Irra Petina was a full partner in comedy with Mr. Baccaloni and Miss Pons. The singing lesson of Act III will linger in the memory as a thoroughly delightful parody. The marchioness at her spinet accompanies Marie in a drawing room ballad. Marie, who would rather beat her drum any day, burlesques florid singing (her own métier) with more deadly effect than the old vaudeville Phillistines. This sequence is probably the ancestor of all the opera vs. Jazz duels of today's entertainment. Jazz, as usual, wins although it is represented this time by the martial song of the Twenty-First Grenadiers. Smaller roles were competently played and sung. There were brief interludes for the ballet which has been practically inoperative in our repertoire.

Papi Conducts

Gennaro Papi in the pit exercised his usual firm control. The applause that greeted his every entrance must have told this modest workman that the Dallas crowd has made him a hero. The Rataplan and the third act minuet are the most sparkling passages in the score. Other portions are more elaborate but this pair of melodies are all we remember just a few minutes after the final curtain.

The more earnest pursuers of cultural experiences may have felt frustrated by the afternoon's frothy proffering. However, they must have enjoyed a good share in spite of themselves. "Daughter of the Regiment" has every right to a rival especially when there is a Lily Pons on hand.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).