[Met Tour] CID:128560

Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts, Fri, March 29, 1940

Review 1:

Review of Warren Storey Smith in the Boston Post


Wins Marked Applause for Her Rendition of the Title Role in 'Lakmé' - Bell Song Particularly Liked

In the opera there is still magic in a name Delibes' "Lakmé," the bill at the Opera House last evening, was an immediate sell-out. And why? Because of the great attractiveness and popularity of this sentimental operatic tale of the English officer and the Hindu maid? No indeed. The answer was Lily Pons.

With a cast of unknown or little known singers "Lakmé" today would be a box office flop. To be sure, once the audience is assembled, and granting its holiday mood, it takes pleasure in the colorful settings, the stir and confusion of the bazaar, the red coats of the British officers, the evolutions and convolutions of the ballet, the sugary sweetness and polite Orientalism of the music.

There is no denying that last evening's audience was enthusiastic. A sound like a clap of thunder greeted Miss Pons' highly skillful rendition of the Bell Song, the one piece in the opera that has any existence outside it. On this matter of applause the observer on the sidelines could not help contrasting the attitude of Thursday evening's audience at "Der Rosenkavalier" with that of last night. Of course, there are no applause-traps in Strauss's score, which flows continuously from the rise to the drop of the curtain. Yet at the end of the first act of "Rosenkavalier" the audience held its breath and for a perceptible interval you could have heard a pin drop after the music had ceased. Last evening, on the other hand, the sound of palms against palms came with systemic recurrence, like the chief theme in a rondo. Between lyric drama and grand opera there is a great gulf fixed, yet the man in the street would imagine them to be very much the same.

Getting back to Miss Pons, it seemed as though her impersonation of the title role was more in character than when last seen here. This "Lakmé" was simply and fatalistically Oriental, not sophisticatedly Latin.

Of those who assumed the other chief parts it may be said that Armand Tokatyan sang the music of Gerald richly, though he is a bit of a stick as an actor, and that Ezio Pinza was a duly formidable and resonant Nilakantha. The lesser roles were well handled, especially the trio of English women, Ellen, Rose and Mistress Bentson (Annamary Dickey, Maxine Stellman and Helen Olheim, respectively). The orchestral performance, led by Wilfred Pelletier, was of routine nature and occasionally obstreperous.

Wagner and Strauss are accused of being noisy, but for a real din, commend us to such lady-like fellows as Delibes and Massenet in their more violent moments. There is a deal of difference between sonority and racket.

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