OP2981. LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT, Live Performance, 28 Dec., 1940, w.Papi Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Lily Pons, Raoul Jobin, Salvatore Baccaloni, Irra Petina, etc. (Italy) 2-Arkadia 2004. Very long out-of-print, final copy! - 8011571020047
“It’s 28 December, 1940 and there’s a war in Europe. A patriotic Lily Pons and the chorus insert a snatch of the ‘Marseillaise’ into the finale—just one of many surprises that will jolt listeners who think they know this opera comique.”
- Michael Mark, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2012
“When, at the opera’s conclusion Miss Pons advances to the front of the stage dressed in regimental uniform and waving the French flag, Donizetti’s pert comedy undergoes a patriotic metamorphosis as the audience rises to its feet….An aura of sentiment has accrued to this performance, heightened in memory by the image of the petite Pons….Even her most vehement detractors accept Pons’ regimental daughter as the pinnacle of her career.”
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.228
“Lily Pons made her début in 1917 in a concert at Paris. She continued studying for 10 more years, making her operatic début in Mulhouse as Lakmé. Because of her youthful beauty, she lied about her age in all interviews saying that she was born in 1904. The ruse was not discovered until after her retirement. She appeared in many provincial French opera houses where she came to the attention of the Italian tenor Giovanni Zenatello and his wife Maria Gay. They assisted Pons in obtaining an audition with the Metropolitan Opera and in 1931 she made her début as Lucia di Lammermoor, the role with which she was to be associated throughout her career and which marked her farewell in 1962. The Metropolitan Opera became her home base, but she continued to appear at the Paris Opéra, Royal Opera Covent Garden in London, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Teatro Colón Buenos Aires. She concentrated her appearances on a few well chosen roles which fit her style and temperament perfectly. In 1951, however, she sang two performances of Violetta in LA TRAVIATA, but this excursion into a more dramatic repertoire was never repeated.
Pons traveled for several months every year, giving recitals and concerts. She was always a welcome visitor for she embodied the essence of the prima donna. She was always made up perfectly and her gowns were created by the finest fashion designers. During World War II, she toured many of the battle theaters, often near the front lines, and even under those difficult conditions she insisted that she look her best in order to lift the spirits of the military personnel. Although her orchestral concerts usually concentrated on famous arias and coloratura showpieces, she did sing the première of ‘Les Chansons de Ronsard’ by Milhaud. In her recitals, she often sang songs of Fauré and Debussy. Her last public performance was with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Andre Kostelanetz in May 1972.
The voice of Pons was a very high, light coloratura soprano. She was a very small woman, about five feet tall and very slight, so she always appeared fragile, and yet she was always in total control of her life and career. She married the conductor Andre Kostelanetz in 1938, but the union dissolved in 1958. She was one of the most popular classical singers of her era.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
“Raoul Jobin, the leading French Canadian tenor of the 1930s and 1940s, studied in his native Québec and then at the Paris Conservatoire, making both his concert and Paris Opéra débuts in 1930. After a spell back in Canada, he returned to the Opéra in 1934 and was a valued member of the company thereafter. He made his Covent Garden début in 1937 and from 1940 to 1950 was regularly engaged at the Metropolitan in New York, also singing with other companies in North and South America. He sang at the Opéra-Comique from 1946. Although he was best known in the French repertoire, Jobin also appeared with success in Italian rôles and the lighter Wagnerian parts. He taught singing in Montréal from 1957 and made his final stage appearance the following year. His exciting voice can be heard on many recordings.”
- Tully Potter