Pons, Lily

BORN 12 Apr 1898, Draguignan, Var (near Cannes) - DIED 13 Feb 1976, Dallas, Texas
BIRTH NAME Pons, Alice Josephine
CAUSE OF DEATH pancreatic cancer
GRAVE LOCATION Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes: Cimetière Protestant du Grand-Jas, 205 avenue de Grasse (Carré 12)

Lili Pons studied piano at the Conservatory in Paris and won First Prize when she was fifteen years old. When the First World War started she went to Cannes with her mother and sister Juliette (b.1902) and there she played piano and she sang for the soldiers.

In 1921 she married August Mesritz, who was twenty years her senior. He encouraged her singing career and in 1925 she took singing lessons with Alberto de Gorostiaga in Paris. In 1928 she debuted in Delibes' "Lakmé" in Mulhouse. She sang in several more French cities until Giovanni Zenatella took her to the Metropolitan in New York where they needed a colatura after Amelita Galli-Curci had retired. Her name was changed from Lili to Lily and on 3 Jan 1931 she was Lucia in "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Donizetti. She was a complete unknown but also an immediate success and she took over many of Galli-Curci's parts.

She appeared 300 times at the Metropolitan between 1931 and 1960 and played Lucia 93 times. In 1940 she became an American citizen. In 1944 and in 1945 she entertained the US troops all over the world, accompanied by her husband Andre Kostelanetz. She was married to him from 1938 to 1958. After she left the Metropolitan she appeared in concerts until 1973. She was awarded the Légion d'honneur in France.

After she died of cancer in 1976 her remains were transported back to France and she was buried in Grand-Jas Cemetery in Cannes.


The grave of Lily Pons at the Cimetière du Grand-Jas, Cannes.
Picture by Androom (30 Nov 2008)


The grave of Lily Pons at the Cimetière du Grand-Jas, Cannes.
Picture by Androom (30 Nov 2008)


Lily Pons - Wikipedia

Ponson du Terrail, Pierre Alexis, Vicomte de

Published: 17 Jul 2011
Last update: 17 Feb 2022