Academy of Music
Manager / Director:
29 August 2018
“The approaching Opera season here will be marked by an interesting event. Among the artists engaged abroad is Mlle. Lisa Harri [sic], who will make her début at our Academy in the fall. She is only sixteen years of age, and is said to be so divine a singer as to put Adelina Patti completely in the shade; but to break the charm of Patti, Mlle. Harri must be an extraordinary person.”
Maretzek had secured “a Miss Hosmer, ‘a young girl about the age and size of Adelina Patti,’ and a voice said to be equal to Patti’s, of English birth, a pupil of Manjocchi, was to make her debut at the Academy in Lucia.”
One of Brignoli’s best roles. The performance offers the attraction of a debut. It is a very young American soprano, Miss Harris.
“The New Prima Donna.—When, to the surprise of the audience last night, a little school-girl, apparently just emancipated from bread-and-butter and pantalettes, tripped lightly out upon the stage of the Academy of Music, her pretty childish face but partially manifesting her fear and nervousness, and her girlish ringlets shading her cheeks, there was a general fear that her appearance was premature; not was this fear lessened when she had concluded her opening cavatina, in which fright quite neutralized her efforts. In the succeeding cabaletta, however, a few well-marked staccato notes gave a fair excuse for the applause with which the audience generously encouraged the trembling girl.
From this moment, the whole case was changed. The debutante, Miss Lisa Harris, overcame her fears enough to sing out with effect, and after the duet with the tenor, Verrano a te, was called before the curtain to receive the hearty plaudits of her listeners.
In the second act—a much more severe task, musically considered—Miss Harris sang so well as to achieve a pronounced success. Her voice, no longer veiled with tremor, came out fully and effectively, and to the surprise of the audience, told finely in the concerted music. Especially was this observable in the short series of syncopated notes which occur on high B flat in the sextette Chi mi frena; and this piece was encored amid universal enthusiasm. In the mad scene of the last act Miss Harris achieved another signal triumph, exhibiting the greatest flexibility of execution, and playing with dangerously high staccato notes with an ease which reminded one of Adelina Patti and LaGrange. From all this, it will be seen that the debut of last night was one of the most successful ever made here. Miss Harris is said to be but sixteen years old, and has, of course, all her stage experience to acquire. But even now she is a worthy representative of the great musical talent of American young ladies.
The debutante seemed to have secured the same kind sympathy from all on the stage that she did from the audience. Mazzoleni and Bellini accommodated their massive style of singing and acting to her level, and the very chorus called her ‘a little dear.’ The opera indeed, was most felicitously rendered throughout, and we are glad to record that for such operas as ‘Lucia,’ ‘Sonnambula,’ and the like, we now have still another prima donna.”
“Academy of Music.—There was an exceedingly good house last evening, attracted by that always interesting event, a début. The claimant for operatic honors was a young lady named Harris, and the opera was necessarily ‘Lucia,’ a work wherein (it is said) failure is impossible. There were rumors of Miss Harris’ début some months back, but we are persuaded that she has followed good counsel in postponing the ordeal until the present time. Indeed, in view of the lady’s extreme youth, it would have been better had it been deferred even longer. The event however has turned out satisfactorily, and Miss Harris, the most youthful of our operatic singers, bids fair to become one of the most popular. Her reception last night was in the highest degree flattering. All that the generosity of an unusully [sic] gallant audience could bestow on the fair débutant [sic] was bestowed upon her long before she had done justice to herself. This excessive applause, indiscreet in itself, had at least the good effect of imparting a feeling of confidence to the little singer, and she warbled with increased spirit and affect as the opera proceeded.
Miss Harris possess a high, penetrating soprano voice of excellent quality. The compass upward is good, but the lower notes are thin, and in the opening scena last evening were almost inaudible. She sings with taste, and evidently possesses a musical temperament of the right kind. As an artist, she has almost everything to learn. Facility of execution, with this kind of voice, is almost a gift of nature. To say that Miss Harris sings passages with ease, correct intonation, and skill, is hardly a compliment but it is nevertheless a pleasant fact. Beyond this we prefer not to speak on the present occasion. But we may add that the lady recovered her self-possession with remarkable rapidity, and achieved a very emphatic success. Study and practice on the stage will soon place her in the ranks of the artists of the country.
The entire performance of the opera was enjoyable. Signor Mazzoleni was in superb voice, and Signor Bellini has seldom been heard to greater advantage.”
“Academy of Music.—There was another fine house at the Academy last evening—the attraction being a debutante, Miss Harris, in the character of Lucia. There was no avant courier of laudation, so all the effect produced by her was the sheer force of her merits. She is very young: of a very little frame. Her voice is a high soprano, of very light quality and intrinsically agile—so that she gets over the rapid details of vocalization. It was a creditable debut, and showed that she has worked well, and been discreetly taught. How far time and womanly development may confer the requisite fullness and loudness of tone necessary for the ripost [sic] qualities of lyrical singing, we shall not venture to surmise, but so far as a first appearance is concerned, subject to all the drawbacks of a debutante’s inexperience and stage fright, it was a most promising beginning.”
An interesting event took place at the opera house last night: the debut of a very young beginner, Miss Lisa Harris. She is a student of Signor Abella and Mad. d’Angri. Miss Harris is trained as a very high soprano, which means she is able to sing all nuances of coloratura scores. Her voice is still lacking in range and is also rather thin, yet of a pleasant, soft timbre. Although she was less of a ‘Lucia’ last night, she showed talent in acting and also sang some arias quite beautifully which gave credit to her teachers. Her trills still need some work, but her chromatic scales were sung very well.
Last Friday, Miss Harris, who is a student of D’Angri, had her debut as ‘Lucia’. She was deservedly quite successful. She possesses a pleasant and flexible high soprano voice and also shows talent in acting.
Very brief, within overview of the week. “Miss Harris, of sweet sixteen, who executes rapid passages like a veteran singer who has been on the stage for many years.”
“The past week at the Academy of Music was full of emotions and incidents, but above all full of success. After the reappearance of Brignoli, and the mishaps that marked it, came the triumphant debut on Friday of Miss Harris in Lucia. The young American singer obtained a triumph which we’ll have to speak about again.
“Miss Lizzie Harris debuted (sounds bad, that word, don’t it?) at the Academy of Music, according to announcement, on the 26th Feb., in the opera of ‘Lucia.’ The house was good, the audience favorably disposed, and the lady warmly received. At the termination of the first scene, where Lucia separates from Edgardo, the debutante (that’s better) was severely and frightfully showered with bouquets, at which she much emotion did evince, and looked unutterable thanks. At the close of the first act, she was enthusiastically called for, and being led out by Mazzolini, had to endure another pitiless floral pelting; but squirmed she not, neither did she wince, which did evince good judgment on her part. At this juncture it seemed to be the general opinion that the debut was a success. Hiss [sic] Harris possesses a pure, flexible and well-proportioned soprano voice, somewhat light, but of good quality; her person is slight, and her appearance child-like although she is eighteen years of age. She displayed grace in her movements, and was not intimidated by the glare of the foot-lights, that terror to first appearances. Miss Harris was not scared a bit. In the second act, in the mad scene, she was truly brilliant, executing the music without putting on any false intonations. We may truthfully say that she made a successful debut upon the Academic boards.”
“The debut of Miss Harris in ‘Lucia’ gave again a proof of the talent and facility our young ladies have for singing as well as of the valuable and competent teachers they can obtain in this city. Miss Harris is a pupil of Signor Abella, the husband of Signora D’Angri, who evidently has trained her voice according to the solid principles of the old Italian school. The formation of the tone with regard to volumen [sic] and beauty in opposition to that method so often retorted to by only developing half the resources of the tone in order to obtain a more facile execution has been strictly adhered to, and the result, on the part of the pupil is a very correct practical illustration of what may be properly called artistic singing. There is evidently much musical sentiment, much talent in the young lady, and although she lacks experience and individuality, she will soon be a very acceptable prima-donna of the Italian opera. But the question is whether her voice, in fact, whether the voices of our late young aspirants to operatic fame in the character of prime-donne, are such as to entitle them to a long and honorable professional career. We doubt this very much. Miss Harris’ voice commences where a great many other female voices are at an end—all what is below, the whole middle register, is exceedingly poor. It is true, she is young, but age and art cannot produce a tone where there is none. We simply mention this in order to impress upon our managers of operas as well as upon other young students who are anxious to share the laurels of Misses Patti and Kellogg, that it is not enough being able to skip over the brilliant music of Lucia, Amina, etc., but also to sing it, tone for tone, with a full round and sound voice. We have had chirping enough; now it is time that some good, stout, strong voice comes to us. A hearty ringing tone has been so seldom heard lately, that we even recall with pleasure the singing of Mlle. Frederici, although it was poor enough. But she gave us to hear a voice, and, after all, Rubini was right when he answered the well-known question—‘What is necessary for a singer?’—with 1. voice; 2. voice; and 3. voice.
Of course, we do not advocate mere voice without an artistic cultivation; but where there is not genius, intelligence and individuality such, for instance, as Miss Kellogg commands, we think it wiser to abstain from the dangerous position of a modern dramatic singer than to swell the already too large list of prima-donne.”