[Met Performance] CID:41400
Lucia di Lammermoor {72} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/21/1908.

(Debut: Ellen Beach Yaw

Metropolitan Opera House
March 21, 1908


Lucia...................Ellen Beach Yaw [Debut and Only performance]
Edgardo.................Alessandro Bonci
Enrico..................Riccardo Stracciari
Raimondo................Vittorio Navarini
Normanno................Giuseppe Tecchi
Alisa...................Marie Mattfeld
Arturo..................George Lucas

Conductor...............Rodolfo Ferrari

Director................Eugène Dufriche

Lucia di Lammermoor received one performance this season.

Unsigned review in unidentified newspaper

Excerpts on the debut of American soprano Ellen Beach Yaw, with fabled high notes

Opera Revived for the First Time This Season for American Girl's Debut

Donizetti's "Lucia" received its first presentation of the season at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. This opera, which has been Mme. Tetrazzini's greatest magnet with the public [Manhattan Opera House] and was once announced at the Metropolitan early in the Fall, but abandoned on account of the indisposition of Mme. Sembrich, owes its present revival to the sudden appearance on the list of sopranos at the Metropolitan of Ellen Beach Yaw.

Miss Yaw is an American girl, who has undertaken several concert tours of the country, but whose principal claim to fame hitherto has been the possession of certain high notes, which have been described as "phenomenal." She has appeared in opera on a few of the Italian cities and in Nice, but last night was her great chance to sing opera in America.

She was decidedly nervous, but it must be said that she made a good impression not only upon the audience as a whole, which applauded her singing vociferously, but upon the more critical persons who were present. Her middle voice is of sweet quality, and she knows how to use it. Her coloratura passages were managed with brilliancy, and with style. Her staccato was especially good. Unfortunately, however, she sang a large part of the second act with false intonation.

Her high notes, which have been so much heralded, were disappointing. They were always thin, and not of sufficient carrying power. She transposed the final G on "quando rapito in Estasi" an octave higher than the score, but without much effect. The sudden leap up the scale was not musical, and the tone was so thin that it was not brilliant. The high C's in the sextet were likewise disappointing. The voice is not a large one in any of the registers, but the high tones are especially small.

The mad scene of course, is the climax of any singer's work in "Lucia," and this air Miss Yaw sang well, at time almost dazzlingly. The duet with the flute provoked so much applause that she repeated the coloratura phrases before finishing the act. And after the curtain fell she was recalled many times.

Excerpt from the Review in The New York Times (Aldrich?)


After battering along through the rough seas of concert work for several years, Ellen Beach Yaw dropped anchor in the snug harbor of the Metropolitan Opera House last night and, judging by the way she was received, she need not sail forth again until she herself elects.

It was a Saturday night audience and, as always, favorably appreciative of good work. This does not mean, however, that the most severely critical audience to be gathered in the Metropolitan Opera House will not approve. It was in "Lucia di Lammermoor" that Ellen Beach Yaw made herself known to a Metropolitan Opera House audience, and it was her voice and her vocal gymnastics that redeemed this stilted and futile old opera. The mad scene might have been written especially to give her an opportunity to handle her flute-like Santos-Dumont notes.

She hit that high G as promised but it is like Bat Masterson hitting a tomato can with a forty-four at four paces.

And that Saturday night audience arose in its privileged popular enthusiasm and demanded more. The sedate and bored section of the audience, the section that assumes the air of persons conjugating always the verb ennuyer, disapproved. They admitted delicate sibilant sounds and conveyed distinctly the impression that they disapproved of any demand for a repetition.

But several thousand demanded more of Madame Yaw's work in high G and as it was her first night in the Metropolitan Opera House it would have been cruel to have denied her the privilege of showing them once again what she could do.

Recall After Recall

And at the conclusion of that mad scene at the end of the third act a demonstration of approval rocked and shook the opera house. It was the sort of thing that will be a koh-l-noor among the memories of Madame Yaw for many years. Time after time she was forced to return to the little cabinet formed by drawing apart the larger curtains, and time after time the highly delighted audience hailed her with mighty applause. She bowed naturally and gracefully; she bowed in the exaggerated style affected by grand opera stars; she kissed her finger tips to the audience with the exaggerated gestures that are always part of an operatic recall and she continued to do these things until the physical exertion must have been tiring.

But it was sincere applause, and as such must have been as grateful to the woman who has won to the top after several years of hard work in a severe apprenticeship.

Not only her work alone, but as one of the sextet was she applauded heartily, valiantly, finely.

And for this applause she returned notes that were vocal pearls. If as been feared by New Yorkers of the Metropolitan Opera House set that her voice would be found mathematically perfect, striking the exact number of vibrations necessary to form the sound sought, but unmusical, cold, hard and mechanical.

But into the voice of Ellen Beach Yaw have crept within the last few years a marvelous quality of music. Time was when it rang as sure and true as a perfect instrument, but as soulless as the music of a machine. Last night it had in it all the melodious quality of a bird's notes,

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