Ellen Beach Yaw was an American pupil of Mathilde Marchesi. Miss Yaw had a coloratura voice with an extended upper register. At Sullivan's urging she was cast as the Sultana in "The Rose of Persia" in 1899. Sullivan wrote a special cadenza, not printed in the score, for her in the song, 'Neath My Lattice'.
Miss Yaw, however, did not make a good impression at the opening night of the opera and Mrs. D'Oyly Carte wanted to fire her. Sullivan was less anxious to do so, and wrote in his diary during the second week of performances, "Having listened all the week through the telephone to the Opera, I find Miss Yaw improving rapidly every night. Last night she sang the song really superbly - brilliant..." Nevertheless, Mrs. D'Oyly Carte dismissed her the next day over Sullivan's objection, and Miss Yaw was understandably upset. In fact, the 1915 edition of Who's Who in Music claimed that she "was heard for the first time in London at the Queen's Hall under Sir Henry Wood in 1902".
Her experience at the Savoy may have ruined her taste for opera. She sang one single performance of "Lucia di Lammermoor" at the Metropolitan in New York, 21 March 1908, with Bonci. Thereafter, she confined herself to concert touts in the United States and Canada.
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