[Met Performance] CID:120320

Metropolitan Opera House, Fri, January 15, 1937

Review 1:

Review of Noel Straus in The New York Times


She Makes First Appearance of Metropolitan Season as Indian Priest's Daughter


Ezio Pinza Scores in Singing of Arias of Nilikantha-Work

Conducted by Abravanel

Delibes's "Lakmé" received its second performance of the Winter at the Metropolitan last night. A capacity audience was in attendance at this presentation in which Lily Pons made her initial appearance of the season at the Broadway house. Besides the assumption of the name part by this popular vocalist, the cast differed in two other of its principals from that heard at the earlier performance, Frederick Jagel being the Frederick, and Ezio Pinza the Nilikantha.

By and large, the opera fared considerably better than at its previous hearing. There was more life and verve to the happenings on stage and commendable improvement in the orchestral support, which was far less obstreperous than before. Mr. Abravanel's toning down of the sounds from the pit made a radical change in the effect of this music which approximated more closely the inherent refinement of the discreet score, than when first heard under his baton.

Miss Pons was as girlish and charming as ever as the daughter of the Indian priest, and was acclaimed with a heartiness which left no doubt of the high esteem in which she is held by her host of admirers. Her singing, however, was not the best she has done in the part here, although filled with many subtle new bits of detail. It was in purely lyric passages that her work was most completely satisfying.

The entrance number contained numerous wavering tones, and was not always true to pitch, and while the "Bell Song" was decidedly more to her credit, it was not impeccable, especially in the introductory section of the aria. But she acted the part with a disarming naiveté and appeal which endeared her with her listeners.

Mr. Pinza's Nilikantha was a creation of no mean worth. His reading of the second act arias in its combined tenderness and pathos and the perfection of its vocalism was a piece of work of the first order and well merited the big hand it obtained. In make-up, dramatic force and compelling song his was the most completely rounded impersonation of the evening. As Gerald, Frederick Jagel was more Italianate than Gallic in his interpretation of the music allotted him, but worked with his usual care and sincerity.

Irra Petina, the Mallika, deserved praise for the delightful manner in which she accomplished her duties in the duet with Miss Pons in the first act. Here Miss Pons led the way with singing quite ravishing in treatment of color and piquancy in phrasing. The rest of the personnel included Natalie Bodanya, Lucielle Browning, Ina Bourskaya, George Cehanovsky, Giordano Paltrinieri, Max Altglass, Angelo Bade and Norman Cordon. The chorus sang efficiently and the American Ballet went through the same manoeuvres as before in the second-act dances.

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