[Met Performance] CID:140310
Lucia di Lammermoor {215} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/25/1945.


Metropolitan Opera House
December 25, 1945


Lucia...................Lily Pons
Edgardo.................James Melton
Enrico..................Frank Valentino
Raimondo................Virgilio Lazzari
Normanno................Lodovico Oliviero
Alisa...................Thelma Votipka
Arturo..................Thomas Hayward

Conductor...............Pietro Cimara

Director................Lothar Wallerstein
Designer................Richard Rychtarik
Choreographer...........Boris Romanoff

Lucia di Lammermoor received six performances this season.

[Pons' costumes were designed by Valentina.]

Review of Virgil Thomson in The New York Herald Tribune

Let Lily Lucy

"Let Lucy Lucy Lily. Let Lucy Lily. Let Lucy Lily. Lily Lily. let Lucy Lily. Let Lily Lucy." So says Gertrude Stein. And so says your humble servant and announcer. It is the gist and sum of his comment on last night's performance of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" at the Metropolitan Opera House. This is a beautiful opera, a noble work of music; and everybody in the cast did a worthy bit toward its execution. But it was Lily Pons's evening. It wasn't Donizetti's or the conductor's or the stage director's or anybody else's. It was Miss Pons's. And for all her bird-like thinness of utterance; she is so far and away the best all-round coloratura soprano now working among us that one is more than willing for the present to let Lily Lucy let Lucy Lucy Lily Lily let Lily Lucy.

All of which means that Miss Pons was at her best. Every phase was full of carrying power and of sagacious intention. Also she sang on pitch. She did not act. She never does; she is too clothes-conscious for that. And she is too selfishly audience-conscious to play up to or with any colleague. She alone, for instance, took bows after the Sextet. She even walked forward after the Mad Song, as if she had for a moment stopped the show, which was not true. All this is showmanship and, if you like, ham. But she had sung well. and she does know how to hammer in the nail of a favorable audience reception. Also she knows how to behave like a star. And when she sings as prettily as she did last night, who cares if she makes a one-star vehicle out of a work that is classically a three or four-star one?

Miss Votipka and Mr. Valentino backed her up nicely without ever taking the shine off her work, and Mr. Melton sang worthily. What he did in the last act, which is all his, I shall never know, since it does not fall within the time a reviewer can stay. I should like to have heard him in the graveyard scene, because he seemed to be in good form. But at no time does he ever have Miss Pons's shining comportment or her fully aware vocal utterance. And so, for all the eager outpouring of pleasant tenor sounds that were his contribution to the earlier evening, he remains in my memory of the occasion an adequate support, no more.

Pietro Cimara, the conductor, was almost more, but in the long run not. He animated the music, made it run along with alacrity. But he, too, handed over the show to the soprano whenever the occasion was propitious. He did not make the mistake of giving her her head. Like any proper accompanist, he pulled her along. But his mind was on the star's performance, not on the drama of the piece.

It was a good performance and a good evening. And if the star did walk away with the show, she did it neatly and without any ugliness, human or musical. A pleasure is a pleasure, and Miss Pons last night was a great pleasure. So far as your reporter is concerned, and till some one else shall turn up who sings the role better, let Lily Lucy, yes, for the present, please let Lily Lucy Lucy Lucy, let Lily Lucy.

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