[Met Tour] CID:120740

American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tue, February 16, 1937

Review 1:

Review in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin


Metropolitan Gives Delibes Opera with Lily Pons in Title Role

Delibes' familiar "Lakmé" was presented by the Metropolitan Opera Association at the Academy of Music last night, with Lily Pons in the title role. Miss Pons has sung the part here in previous seasons. The opera was restored to the repertoire for her benefit and will probably remain as long as she is present and able to sing the florid music as well as she does now. The celebrated coloratura was in excellent voice, and her performance of the Bell Song" achieved a merited ovation. Miss Pons' charming presence and her lovely voice dominated the evening. She is a personality as well as an extraordinarily gifted singer, and if the performance as a whole seemed hardly more than an elaborate setting for her, the tribute seemed in no way exaggerated.

Delibes treatment of a vacuous story about the forbidden and ill-fated love of the daughter of a Brahmin priest for a British officer is a vapid matter under the most favorable of circumstances, but the Metropolitan has managed to invest it with certain values as a spectacle. The staging of the scene in the sacred pagoda and the subsequent episode in the market place of a Hindu city have been given colorful and imaginative treatment. With the exception of Miss Pons' selection as the heroine, however, the casting was not exceptional. Frederick Jagel, a tenor whose voice is not conspicuously musical in the heaviest of roles, was hardly at ease when confronted with the light texture of the Delibes music. Saving certain robust upper notes his performance was singularly lacking in any suggestion of lyricism. Chase Baromeo gave dignity to the role of Nilikantha, but the labor of his singing was frequently reflected in lapses from pitch and in the constrained quality of his upper tones.

Irra Petina, as Lakmé's companion, enjoyed one of her infrequent opportunities to display a mezzo-soprano of very agreeable quality which blended nicely with Miss Pons' coloratura in the "Dom Epais" duet. She was easily outstanding among the secondary characters. Other in the cast were Natalie Bodanya, Lucielle Browning, Ina Bourskaya, George Cehanovsky, Giordano Paltrinieri, Max Altglass, Angelo Bada and Norman Cordon. The American Ballet contributed a colorful divertissement in the market scene. While creditably executed, the figures given the dancers seemed labored and wanting in invention. Maurice de Abravanel conducted. Despite the weather, all the seats were sold and nearly all were occupied. The audience directed the greater part of its enthusiasm to Miss Pons, but her associates in the drama as well as the ballet and the conductor, were rewarded with cordial applause.

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