Cher Public

“Petite and chic as ever”

On this day in 1956 the Metropolitan Opera celebrated the 25th anniversary of the debut of soprano Lily Pons with a special gala performance. 

Harriett Johnson in the New York Post:

Lily Pons, petite and chic as ever, adorned the stage of the Metropolitan Opera last night both visually and vocally at the gala event in her honor. In appearance and in song, she belied the fact that she had made her debut before the Diamond Horseshoe 25 years to the day, Jan. 3, 1931. The management reports that she is the first prima donna soprano ever to establish such a record.

Quite rightly, the Met’s board of directors, the opera management, many of her fellow artists, plus members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and AGMA turned out to celebrate with her and her audience.

After the Mad Scene from “Lucia,” which she executed with her usual sweetness of quality and coloratura agility, representatives from these aforementioned organizations, together with several of her colleagues, appeared on stage with her. She was presented with speeches and gifts, including two silver bowls, a silver picture frame and silver tray, all inscribed to her in various ways.

The most pungent compliment accorded her came from General Manager Bing, who remarked that “having been here only for about five years I can hardly imagine staying for 25. You have my unbounded admiration.”

To all of this the charming and unassuming Lily replied with a short speech of thanks in her inimitable English. She thanked everybody for something, including the enthusiastic audience for their loyalty to her in “all those years I have sing in this wonderful house.”

As the curtain slowly fell, Zinka Milanov gave her a fervent hug and kiss, the distaff climax to similar previous demonstrations from the male contingent.