[Met Performance] CID:127500

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 6, 1940 Matinee Broadcast

Lakmé received seven performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Noel Strauss in The New York Times


Evokes Applause of Capacity House in First Performance of Delibes Work in Season


Pinza Heard as Nilikantha - Irra Petina, Cehanovsky and Massue Also in Cast

Delibes's "Lakmé" received its initial performance of the season yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House with Lily Pons in the title role. Because of its unremitting flow of spontaneous melody and colorful background, the work still holds its own after the passage of almost six decades since its first presentation here, as was again attested by the extreme enthusiasm it evoked from a capacity audience at this latest enfoldment.

The largest share of the applause was reserved for Miss Pons, whose singing, if not on a par with the best heard from her in the role of the Hindu heroine on previous occasions, was expressive and in general true to pitch. The voice sounded lighter and thinner than usual, with a tendency to quaver on sustained tones, and phrases in the lower register sometimes failed to carry audibly across the footlights. But the "Bell Song" was charmingly and dexterously encompassed, the E major refrain being taken at an exceptionally rapid tempo without loss of clarity or accuracy in the staccato attacks. Miss Pons was as girlish a figure as ever and gave a delicately tender portrayal that increased in its appeal as the opera progressed.

Armand Tokatyan was a Gerald convincingly romantic in appearance and in song. His tones had an added freshness and vitality and were projected with enkindling ardor. As Nilikantha, Ezio Pinza dominated the scene whenever he appeared, not only by the vividness of his impersonation of the vengeful Indian priest, but also by the skill displayed in all of his vocalism. The richness of tone and the touching pathos brought to his pronouncement of Nilikantha's aria in the second act was an outstanding achievement of the afternoon.

Irra Petina was in fine voice and made her points tell as Mallika. George Cehanovsky was a capable Frederic and Nicholas Massue made the most of his few opportunities as Hadji. The ladies of the tourist party seemed more intent on sightseeing than the niceties of vocal technique, but the activities of these characters of the librettist's imagination are of minor importance at any rate.

The chorus was up to its accustomed standard. There was a laudable attempt in the colorful ballet to bring something of authentic East Indian gesture and line into the poses and gestures, but the total effect was a bit disorganized. Wilfred Pelletier conducted with spirit and animation. At times, however, he failed to exert the full measure of discretion required in this essentially Gallic score, with resultant drowning out of important passages for the soloists on stage. Taken by and large, the performance lacked something of its usual evenness, but proved much to the liking of the audience as a whole.

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