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Lily Pons Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (7)

Overview (4)

Born in Draguignan, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Died in Dallas, Texas, USA  (pancreatic cancer)
Birth NameAlice Joséphine Pons
Height 5' (1.52 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Of Italian and French ancestry, the famed coloratura was born Alice Josephine Pons near Cannes, France in 1898. She studied the piano as a child and entered the Paris Conservatoire at age 13. Fragile health and the outbreak of World War I interrupted her education. She began appearing again in ingenue roles in the ensuing years. In 1923, she married August Mesritz, who encouraged her singing. Pons made her professional debut in the difficult title role of "Lakme" in 1928. She continued to sing at Paris opera houses, building up her repertoire. She debuted at the Met in 1931 and was instantly revered for her critically-lauded performance of "Lucia de Lammermoor." She exuded beauty, charm, range and glamour, making her one of the most popular prima donnas of her time. Specializing in French and Italian coloratura parts, she became a durable figure at the Met, remaining with the company for nearly three decades. She was the first soprano who could reach the high "F", composer Delibes wrote in his opera "Lakme." "The Bell Song" from the aforementioned opera, became her signature piece. Though she possessed a rather small voice, it is rightly stated that Pons could hold a high "D" for nearly a minute. Her international success eventually crossed over into movies where plush operettas were all the rage. Pons would film three, but her popularity would never match rivals Jeanette MacDonald or Grace Moore in that realm, and she quietly retired from the movies after a couple of years. Radio, however, was a different matter and she remained an enduring favorite. In addition, she entertained troops during WWII, touring battlefields in North Africa and Asia. In 1938, having divorced her first husband, she married Russian-American conductor Andre Kostelanetz and a beautiful collaboration began. For over three decades, they would appear together in concert. During this time, she became one of the highest paid performers in history. Although the couple divorced in 1958, they continued a professional relationship, appearing together from time to time. Formally retiring in 1964, she continued in concert until 1972. She died of pancreatic cancer in 1976 at age 77, and was buried in a family grave in Cannes.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Andre Kostelanetz (2 June 1938 - 1958) (divorced)
August Mesritz (1923 - 1933) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Delibes's "Bell Song", in which she could reach the high F!

Trivia (7)

Pictured on one of a set of four 32¢ US commemorative postage stamps in the Legends of American Music series, issued 10 September 1997, celebrating opera singers. Other singers honored in this issue are Rosa Ponselle, Lawrence Tibbett, and Richard Tucker.
Her last public appearance was at a Promenade concert, of the New York Philharmonic, with famed ex-husband Andre Kostelanetz conducting, in May of 1972.
Awarded the Legion of Honor in 1938 by the French.
Known for her 22-inch waist.
An unknown when she came to the United States to audition for the Met, timing was on her side when the coloratura position became vacant due to illness. Pons became an overnight success and is credited with saving the Met from bankruptcy during the Depression.
A community in Maryland was named Lilypons in her honor. Its main street is "Lilypons Road." A contemporary rock group also named themselves after her.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7006 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

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