Max Smith in The New York American:
For once, though, the general manager, usually somewhat timid, took what seemed to be a great risk. He allotted the principal feminine part of “La Forza del Destino” to an absolute novice, to a young woman who had never before made an appearance of the operatic stage, who only nine months ago, in fact, had been singing as Miss Ponzelli with her sister on the vaudeville stage. No wonder, then, that more than a few persons, before the rise of the curtain last night, felt misgivings, despite their trust in Signor Gatti-Casazza.
Happily Miss Ponselle, for that is the name the new prima donna has adopted for the lyric stage, justified the faith the management had shown in her powers, even if she did not fulfill the most extravagant promises of her sponsors. It is absurd to assert that she is as great a singer as Rosa Raisa of the Chicago Opera Company. But there is no telling what a young woman may eventually attain who after less than a year of assiduous study manages to appear as associate soprano to Enrico Caruso on the boards of the Metropolitan Opera House. With her recent past in mind it must be acknowledged that her success last night was nothing short of sensational. . . .
It was difficult to believe that Miss Ponselle’s earlier stage experiences had been confined to vaudeville, so much assurance she exhibited yesterday while facing a gathering that might well have unnerved her. To judge from her demeanor and her acting one would have taken her to be a youthful singer well versed in the routine of lyric drama. Always in gesture, in pose, and in facial expression did she seem to have perfect command of herself. And this gave cause for quite as much surprise as did the quality of her voice, the control she exerted over it while supporting her tones on an ample supply of breath, and the dramatic intensity she so spontaneously infused in her singing.
Miss Ponselle unquestionably is a woman of very unusual talent, and fortunately nature has endowed her with an excellent stage-presence, as was especially notable when she appeared in the masculine disguise which this Leonora, like another and greater one, assumed. There may be difference of opinion regarding the exact character of the new singer’s voice. It has the mellow opulence and warmth of a mezzo in the lower register and responds easily below C natural. Yet, has her voice the range of a dramatic soprano? Only her middle tones are slightly throaty and her high tones not quite free and round in their resonance. Under the circumstances Miss Ponselle is a valuable addition to Signor Gatti-Casazza’s company. The Metropolitan Opera Company was in dire need of a “dramatic soprano,” and last night’s audience welcomed the gifted debutante in a manner that left no doubt of her success.
On this day in 1845 William Vincent Wallace‘s opera Maritana premiered in London.
On this day in 1903 Eugene d’Albert‘s opera Tiefland premiered in Prague
Happy 80th birthday conductor Daniel Barenboim.
Happy 90th birthday Petula Clark!