[Met Tour] CID:128540

Lyric Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland, Wed, March 27, 1940

Review 1:

Review signed R. R. C. in the Baltimore Evening Sun

For Music Lovers

Local Opera Season Reaches Peak As Pons Sings Title Role of 'Lakmé'

After the performance which served merely to whet the appetites of Baltimore opera-goers, the Metropolitan Opera Company last night reached the apogee of its fourteenth annual spring season here with a spectacular production of Delibes' colorful Oriental opera, "Lakmé." It as a performance which left behind it a satisfaction both musical and visual, and gave the nearly 3,000 persons present a surfeit of beauty and pleasure that will be long remembered.

The Metropolitan's three-day season here this year was notable indeed for the performance of operas unhackneyed by frequent previous stagings, richly mounted and capably sung and acted. "Lakmé" was designedly the final and climaxing production.

Performance Honors Go To All

Honors for the performance must be shared in many places. The orchestra under Wilfred Pelletier, maintained the utmost consistency in balance and support, neither overshadowing nor deserting the singers. The sets by Joseph Novak added much to the effect; the eye-filling specialties by the Corps de Ballet and solo dancers, the precisely trained chorus, and the well-equipped singers filling the minor roles, all combined to enhance the generic values of the music.

But the indubitable success of "Lakmé" was mainly due to the petite French coloratura who sang the leading role, Lily Pons, third and by all accounts the finest Lakmé in the history of the Metropolitan. Doll-like stature is no bar to superlative singing in her case, the knife-bright focus of every tone, particularly the very soft high notes, carrying through the heaviest orchestration to the topmost row of the balcony with clarity and distinction.

From the first scene in which she appeared in a Hindu chant, her flute-like voice dominated the entire opera. The famous "Bell song" in the bazaar locale of the second act was awaited breathlessly, and the cascading runs in the empyrean heights above High C evoked the greatest roars of applause of the season.

Pinza Had Role Of Brahmin Priest

Ezio Pinza, Italian basso whose voice seems to grow in torrential volume and resonance with his every appearance, lent great dramatic emphasis to the role of Nilakantha, the Brahmin priest and father of Lakmé, in his vengeful hunt for those who had profaned his temple.

Armand Tokatyan played the role of Gerald, the English soldier whom Lakmé loved, and George Cehanovsky was his comrade in arms, Frederic. Irra Petina, as a slave girl, sang an engaging duet with Miss Pons in the first scene, which was one of the melodic gems of the entire work, the harmony shifting and changing as the phrases were repeated, the voices blending and fading in descending cadences with a beautiful effect.

Among the other players was a singer new to Baltimore and to the Metropolitan this season. She was Annamary Dickey, young American soprano who won an audition series to obtain her contract. In the bit role of Ellen, she sang an arietta in a talky scene, and made a generally pleasing impression. Helen Olheim, in a lesser bit, contrived to make her tiny part one of distinction through excellent histrionics.

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