1997 Opera Singers
Legends of American Music Series
- Honors four famous singers whose voices had a lasting impact on American opera
- The ninth set in the Legends of American Music Series
Legends of American Music
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
September 10, 1997
First Day City:
New York, New York
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd.
Panes of 20
11.1 x 11
Why the stamps were issued:
To commemorate the career and legacy of opera singers Lily Pons, Richard Tucker, Lawrence Tibbett, and Rosa Ponselle.
About the stamp designs:
Pictures a portrait of each singer by artist Mark English of Liberty, Missouri. Also included on the stamps are smaller images of figures in the costume of characters from an opera.
Special design details:
English’s work has also been pictured on the four American Arts commemoratives of 1973. Art director Howard Paine said of the earlier stamps, “They were sophisticated, moody, and very interesting.” That’s why he sought English out for the Opera Singers stamps.
First Day City:
The Opera Singers stamps had their First Day of Issue Ceremony at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City’s Lincoln Center.
About the Legends of American Music Series:
The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999. More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more. The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
History the stamp represents:
Lily Pons (1898-1976) was born in Draguignan, France (near Cannes). She studied piano at the Paris Conservatory, but gave up her studies to take stage roles, appearing in the Paris Variétés. Later, at age 21, she began voice lessons with Albert de Gorostiaga.
In 1928, Pons made her operatic debut in the title role of Léo Delibes’ Lakmé
at the Mulhouse Opera in Alsace. Subsequent appearances in various provincial French opera houses drew the attention of the General Director of the Metropolitan Opera, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, who asked her to sing the title role in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor
in 1931. She accepted and remained with the Metropolitan Opera as its principal soprano until 1961.
Pons was gifted with an incredible range. In fact, she was the first soprano in 50 years that could sing the highest note (high F0 written in the “Bell Song” of the opera Lakmé
. She was particularly famous for her coloratura
parts (marked by ornamental vocal trills and runs) and her warmth of expression.
A popular figure on major operatic stages, Pons appeared throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Australia. She sang on radio, on television, and appeared in several motion pictures.