[Met Performance] CID:92160
La Bohème {229} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/28/1926.

(Debut: Mary Lewis

Metropolitan Opera House
January 28, 1926 Matinee


Mimì....................Mary Lewis [Debut]
Rodolfo.................Edward Johnson
Musetta.................Elizabeth Kandt
Marcello................Antonio Scotti
Schaunard...............Millo Picco
Colline.................Léon Rothier
Benoit..................Paolo Ananian
Alcindoro...............Pompilio Malatesta
Parpignol...............Max Altglass
Sergeant................Vincenzo Reschiglian

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

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

Former Follies Girl Makes Creditable Debut at the Metropolitan in 'La Boheme.'

Miss Mary Lewis, soprano, made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon in a special performance of Puccini's "La Boheme," in which she had the favorable role of Mimi. She began her Broadway musical career as a Ziegfeld Follies girl, subsequently took up the serious study of singing and made her first appearance as prima donna in Paris. She was first heard here as a star when she was the soloist at a concert of the now defunct State Symphony Orchestra on October 27, 1925. She made a moderately favorable impression on that occasion, though there was no general excitement. It needed the glory of opera to arouse larger interest.

It is, however, no matter whence opera singers come. Many of them have been of very humble origin, few indeed of aristocratic birth. Nor is it an obstacle in the beginner's path to have been a musical comedy actress. Vaudeville and the Broadway theaters have already contributed singers for Verdi and Puccini. The entrance of a former Follies girl into the large company of Mimis has therefore a certain human interest, but it is neither a musical event of magnitude in itself nor an occasion for general excitement. The debut of Miss Lewis was important to Miss Lewis and her friends, but not to opera.

The story of the singer's reception by her audience has been told. It was very cordial and there was considerable applause which had the note of spontaneity, but much of which seemed to be bestowed by ladies and gentlemen of the stage. The young woman accepted her honors without apparent excitement. As to the artistic nature of her achievement not too much should be said. Hers was a creditable debut which was magnified out of all proportion by the fact that she was graduated from a musical comedy theater. Her assumption of the role of Mimi had some merits, but nothing to justify a prediction of a distinguished operatic career. To acquire distinction in the news columns of the papers by stepping from comic to grand opera is one thing and having and holding distinction in opera is quite another.

Miss Lewis disclosed none of the familiar signs of nervousness. Her breath control was seldom shaken; it was generally good. Only in one or two places did she seem to alter her prepared phrasing. Her tones were not tremulous, nor were they veiled. She went off pitch badly on two or three spots in the first act, and this may have been due to nervousness since false intonation was infrequent in subsequent acts. Miss Lewis has a lyric voice of very pretty natural quality and of sufficient volume for light roles. In so far as voice alone is concerned her ambitions to rise to opera was justified. But despite the prevailing opinion of operagoers voice alone does not make the opera singer. The Musetta, Elizabeth Kandt, sang in such a way as to make Miss Lewis seem better than she was.

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