32¢ Lily Pons
Issue Date: September 10, 1997
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Lily Pons (1898-1976) was born in Draguignan, near Cannes, France. 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 F) 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.