History & Grounds
Experience a bit of Lake George’s Golden Age at the former teaching studio of Metropolitan Opera Diva Marcella Sembrich; pianist, violinist, teacher, Polish patriot and benefactor. This unique building is one of a few from the early twentieth century in Northern New York that is open to the public.
Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935), internationally known Polish soprano, first sang with the New York Metropolitan Opera in its initial season in 1883. She retired in 1909 and sang concert tours until 1917. She gained preeminence as a vocal teacher at Curtis Institute and Juilliard School, and summered in the Adirondack Mountains at Lake Placid from 1915 to 1921 and here on Lake George from 1922 to 1934.
Her teaching studio, built in 1924, was the focal point of her summers at her lakeside mansion, Bay View. Here, Juilliard and Curtis Institute vocal students sought instruction by the acclaimed Sembrich.
Nearby Hilltop Cottage was built by Mme. Sembrich in 1924 as a Caretaker’s Cottage, with a dorm for her vocal students on the 2nd floor.
After Mme. Sembrich’s death in 1935, The studio museum was opened in 1937 by her daughter-in-law, Julliette deCoppet Stengel, whose musical family founded the Flonzaley Quartet (1903-1929). The Museum has been in continuous operation every summer. Initially called a Memorial Studio, the building is now referred to as an Opera Museum and is located on a four acre parcel from her original fourteen-acre lakeside estate.
The ‘Golden Age of Opera’ unfolds through the memorabilia of a distinguished international operatic career spanning over 50 years, including paintings, sculptures, costumes, accolades, personal effects, music, and autographed photographs of Sembrich’s contemporaries such as Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Caruso, Liszt, Brahms and Puccini.
Situated on a wooded peninsula, the studio is a unique “time capsule oasis” set among commercial resort properties. Visitors can walk along 1,000 feet of Lake George shoreline paths, experiencing the pristine, natural beauty of the “Queen of American Lakes” among towering 200 year old white pines. The Sembrich Museum property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout the summer months, there are many events, such as concerts by renowned singers, composers, and musicians, and symposiums by opera historians.
For a short video of the history of Mme. Sembrich and her teaching studio, view this video produced by Mountain Lake PBS and Lakes to Locks Passage.