On this day in 1951 soprano Victoria de los Angeles made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Marguerite in Faust.
Virgil Thomson in The New York Herald Tribune:
The performance, save for the work of the new star, was everywhere lacking in refinement and in dramatic tension, though the beautiful voices of Eugene Conley, Frank Guarrera, Jerome Hines and Thelma Votipka were a pleasure for sound at many moments during the evening…But for the most part Miss de los Angeles was the member of the cast who seemed to know the opera and believe in it&8230;.
She was also the one member who was at home in the French language. She projected the text as clearly as she did the musical line, and she acted the role with a delicate intensity all unusual to that stage. Her vocalism, beautifully schooled and in every way secure, was marked by a similar concentration on excellence and an abstention from broad effects. As in her recitals, she worked quietly, behaved lovingly toward the music, showed no hard edges, never forced a tone or made any effort to dazzle. The effect was delightful, though not provocative of wild applause. In a house usually given over to broad effects, it was indeed refreshing to hear some soft singing and to see an actress bring her role to life without the use of circus methods&8230;
Miss de los Angeles is not without vocal power. She simply does not throw it at you. Her lyric soprano voice is wide of range and trained both for flexibility and for expressive color variation. In the middle it has great warmth, and the top part of it carries perfectly. She does not sing off pitch, or tremble or make ugly sounds or lack precision in scale passages or fail to communicate both the music and play. But she is young (twenty six, we are told) and wisely refrains from calling on her ultimate of loudness. I think she has the makings of a great star-voice, schooling, musicianship, sincerity and stage personality that is strong and warm. I do not think, however, that her roles are at this point predetermined. She might turn into a dramatic soprano, or she might stay lyric&8230;
What can be determined now, what has already been decided by European audiences, is that she is a vocal artist out of the ordinary and far above it. Her performance as Marguerite in “Faust” revealed further to this observer that her unusual musical gifts are accompanied by a stage presence of no minor impact. She is a lovely singer and something of an actress, far more indeed than most opera singers are. She is at home on the stage, and she can make you believe in the reality of her role. She is in it at every moment. She does not step out of it, make useless motions or let her mind wander. She is professional and first-class all the time. Last night she made everybody else on the stage seem, both musically and dramatically, a little amateurish.