[Met Concert/Gala] CID:170480
Lily Pons Gala. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/3/1956.

(Lily Pons's 25th Anniversary
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 3, 1956

In celebration of Lily Pons' twenty-fifth anniversary with the company


LILY PONS GALA

Rigoletto: Act I, Scene 2

Rigoletto.................Robert Merrill
Gilda.....................Lily Pons
Duke......................Jan Peerce
Sparafucile...............Nicola Moscona
Borsa.....................Gabor Carelli
Marullo...................Clifford Harvuot
Ceprano...................Calvin Marsh
Giovanna..................Thelma Votipka

Conductor.................Fausto Cleva

Director..................Herbert Graf
Designer..................Eugene Berman


Lucia di Lammermoor: Act III, Scene 2

Lucia.....................Lily Pons
Raimondo..................Nicola Moscona
Dance.....................Zebra Nevins
Dance.....................Karl Klauser

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

Director..................Désiré Defrère
Designer..................Richard Rychtarik
Costume designer..........Ruth Morley [Ballet only]


Linda di Chamounix: O luce di quest'anima
Mignon: Je suis Titania
Le Rossignol: Chant du Rossignol
Lakmé: Bell Song
Bachelet: Chère nuit (encore)
Ponce: Estrellita (encore)
Lily Pons

Conductor.................Max Rudolf


Review of Harriett Johnson in the New York Post

PONS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AT THE MET

Lily Pons, petite and chic as ever, adorned the stage of the Metropolitan Opera last night both visually and vocally at the gala event in her honor. In appearance and in song, she belied the fact that she had made her debut before the Diamond Horseshoe 25 years to the day, Jan. 3, 1931. The management reports that she is the first prima donna soprano ever to establish such a record.

Quite rightly, the Met's board of directors, the opera management, many of her fellow artists, plus members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and AGMA turned out to celebrate with her and her audience.

After the Mad Scene from "Lucia," which she executed with her usual sweetness of quality and coloratura agility, representatives from these aforementioned organizations, together with several of her colleagues, appeared on stage with her. She was presented with speeches and gifts, including two silver bowls, a silver picture frame and silver tray, all inscribed to her in various ways.

The most pungent compliment accorded her came from General Manager Bing, who remarked that "having been here only for about five years I can hardly imagine staying for 25. You have my unbounded admiration."

To all of this the charming and unassuming Lily replied with a short speech of thanks in her inimitable English. She thanked everybody for something, including the enthusiastic audience for their loyalty to her in "all those years I have sing in this wonderful house."

As the curtain slowly fell, Zinka Milanov gave her a fervent hug and kiss, the distaff climax to similar previous demonstrations from the male contingent.

Event Genuinely Gala.

Because Miss Pons can still command her musical abilities with first-class prowess, the event had a genuinely gala flavor.

We celebrated with her; we didn't commemorate something she once was. And the many expressions of affection and admiration had the ring of sincerity. She has obviously earned not only the plaudits of a glamorous and distinguished career but the affection and love of her colleagues.

The musical, aspects of the evening included the second act of "Rigoletto," with Robert Merrill, Nicola Moscona and Jan Peerce collaborating in fine style with the star of the occasion. Peerce also spoke on behalf of the artist and presented Miss Pons with a silver bowl.

She was, naturally, under emotional strain, and nervous during the beginning of the evening, but after the second intermission, when she appeared stunningly dressed in white to sing four difficult arias, she was in top form. A measure of her high artistry was her sensitive and poignant singing of Stravinsky's "Chant du Rossignol," followed by a brilliant conclusion in the Bell Song from Delibes' "Lakme."

A host of notables including Lillian Gish, Renata Tebaldi and David Oistrakh were also on hand to applaud this distinguished artist who made her own "gala" a vivid musical experience.


Account and Review of Irving Kolodin in The Saturday Review of Literature

LILY PONS's enduring fame was not seriously marred by her most recent Metropolitan appearance in a "gala" paying tribute to her appearances there in twenty-five successive years since her debut in 1931. She looked indescribably well, she sang with an indescribable effect on a large audience, and they responded with applause of warmth and volume. Leopold Stokowski was present, also Gladys Swarthout, Lillian Gish, David Oistrakh, and Andre Kostelanetz. The second act of "Rigoletto," the "Mad Scene" from "Lucia," and a group of arias were interspersed with tokens of esteem from management, directors, and co-workers.

The whole point of the occasion-how long Miss Pons has lasted in her chosen field and how well she still does what made her famous-was dulled a little by two facts. She has, truly, lasted longer than most other coloraturas (the pedants will note that Marcella Sembrich sang in the Met's first season, 1883, and didn't retire until 1909) but in the ten postwar years she has appeared at the Met only thirty-four times, an average of three-plus a year. Thus, her operatic endeavor has been spread very thin for a very long time. In some of these seasons she sang no more than once, meaning that her "streak"-like some famous ones in the sporting world--has been kept alive as much by courtesy as by achievement.

As to the second point, Miss Pons has been famous a long time, and has been singing near, rather, than on, the pitch much of that time. That typical characteristic was not denied the audience at her "gala," which heard a Gilda in typical Pons style-not too sparkling in sound, but with every note animated by a keen sense of audience effect.

As a vocal phenomenon Miss Pons possessed a sounder technique than most of her contemporaries, also a compact chic which she had the good sense to make a stock in trade. For preserving all of these as well as she has, she is entitled to profound admiration, if more as a kind of perennial public personality than as an operatic artist. Jan Peerce (the Duke) and Robert Merrill (Rigoletto) both sang uncommonly well in the Verdi, for which Fausto Cleva was the conductor.



Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names


Back to short citation(s).