• Carmen


    Rosa Ponselle as Carmen.




    Carmen was the last role Ponselle added into her repertoire. Her first performance was in December, 1935, at the MET. Hardly one year later, her last MET performance was another Carmen, and her farewell to the operatic stage, was in Cleveland, singing again Carmen, in April, 1937.

    This Cleveland performance was broadcasted, and there is a recording available, as well as other one from the same year, at the MET:

    Rosa Ponselle - Carmen, 1937

    Carmen was another of Ponselle's fetish roles. "In the fifteen performances I sung, except for one that I was sick, I never found myself better on stage".

    Near to her forties, Ponselle had already lost her former ability to sing the soprano top notes, not only her feared C5 but even a B-flat 4 was troublesome for her.

    Understandably, she was at ease singing Carmen, that lied comfortably between her beautiful center, and her still immaculate low notes. It was clear that Ponselle's future was in the mezzo repertoire.

    However, some Hollywood projects that never materialized, her bitter disagreements with the new MET management (they keep insisting that Ponselle should sing Norma again, something that was no longer possible), and also her marriage to a Baltimore socialite, conspired to force Ponselle into retirement, still at a relatively young age, but with a career of almost twenty years behind her.

    From her Hollywood screen tests, we can watch this Habanera:




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