CD 1 (79:51)
|with studio orchestra, with unidentified conductor|
|1.||LOHENGRIN: Einsam in trüben Tagen (Wagner)||3:29|
|(55978) 35cm center-start disc 5844 [Cylinder to disc transfer number RA 1110]|
|2.||LOHENGRIN: Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen (Wagner)||3:35|
|(55979) 35cm center-start disc 5844 [Cylinder to disc transfer number RA 1008]|
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|3.||TANNHÄUSER: Dich, teure Halle, grüß’ ich wieder (Wagner)||3:39|
|(1101m) 76353 |
|4.||TANNHÄUSER: Allmächt’ge Jungfrau (Wagner)||3:56|
|(1102m) 76354 |
|5.||LOHENGRIN: Du Ärmste kannst wohl nie ermessen (Wagner)||4:08|
|(1103m) 76355 |
|6.||DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG: Gut’n Abend Meister! … Doch starb Eure Frau (Wagner)||8:40|
|with Michael Bohnen, bass|
(1107m) 76357 / (1108m) 76364 
|7.||FAUST: Il était un roi de Thulé (Es war ein König in Thule) (Gounod)||3:56|
|(1109m) 76368 |
|8.||FAUST: Il m’aime (Er liebt mich) (Gounod)||2:31|
|(19037L) 74607 [2-43540]|
|9.||FAUST: Alerte! alerte! (Auf, eilet! Auf, eilet!) (Gounod)||2:38|
|with Robert Hutt, tenor and Michael Bohnen, bass|
(19038L) 74596 [3-44159]
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|(Within this session, we have altered the matrix order sequence for musical continuity.)|
|10.||LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimì (Man nennt mich jetzt Mimi) (Puccini)||4:18|
|(1200m) 76402 |
|11.||MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Spira sul mare e sulla terra (Über das Meer und alle Lande) [Entrance of Butterfly] (Puccini)||2:51|
|(19184L) 74604 [2-43529]|
|12.||MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Piangi? Perché? … Un bel dì vedremo (Weh’ mir, du weinst! … Eines Tages sehen wir) (Puccini)||4:09|
|(1244m) 76411 |
|13.||EUGEN ONEGIN: Kto ti: moi angel li khranitel (Sag’, bist als Schutzgeist du gesendet) [Letter Scene] (Tchaikovsky)||3:38|
|(1221½m) 76369 |
|Sung in D-flat|
|15.||MIGNON: Elle est là, près de lui (Dort bei ihm ist sie jetz) (Thomas)||4:00|
|(1228m) 76413 |
|16.||CARMEN: Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante (Ich sprach, dass ich furchtlos mich fühle) (Bizet)||4:17|
|(1221m) 76478 [B 24073]|
|17.||LE NOZZE DE FIGARO: Porgi, amor qualche ristoro (Heil’ge Quelle reiner Triebe) (Mozart)||3:56|
|(1225m) 76414 |
|18.||LE NOZZE DE FIGARO: Deh vieni, non tardar (O säume länger nicht) (Mozart)||3:54|
|(1226m) 76477 |
|19.||DER FREISCHÜTZ: Wie nahte mir der Schlummer, bevor ich ihn gesehn? … Alles pflegt schon längst der Ruh’ (Weber)||8:34|
|(1229m) 76482 [B 24088]/(1106m) 76356 |
|(Both sides of this aria were originally recorded during Lehmann’s first Deutsche Grammophon session as matrices 1105m and 1106m. The first side was either rejected as unsuitable or it was damaged in processing. Part one of the aria was recorded again during her second session as matrix 1229m. The original recording of side two on matrix 1106m was released along with the re-recording of side one.)|
CD 2 (78:53)
|1.||MANON: Obéissons quand leur voix appelle … Profitons bien de la jeunesse (Folget dem Ruf, so lieblich zu hören … Nützet die schönen, jungen Tage) [Gavotte] (Massenet)||2:58|
|(19185½L) 74598 [2-43524]|
|2.||DIE WALKÜRE: Du bist der Lenz (Wagner)||2:18|
|(19186L) 74597 [2-43524]|
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|3.||SUOR ANGELICA: Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto (Ohne Mutter bist du, Kind, gestorben) (Puccini)||4:10|
|(150ap) 76405 |
|4.||SUOR ANGELICA: Amici fiori che nel picco seno (O Blumen, die ihr Gift im Kelch verschliesset) (Puccini)||3:52|
|(151ap) 76406 |
|5.||LE NOZZE DE FIGARO: Crudel! Perchè finora farmi languir così? (So lang’ hab’ ich geschmachtet) (Mozart)||3:06|
|with Heinrich Schlusnus, baritone|
(152ap) 76412 
|6.||DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE: Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen (Mozart)||3:17|
|with Heinrich Schlusnus, baritone|
(153ap) 76415 
|7.||MIGNON: Légères hirondelles, oiseaux bénis de Dieu (Ihr Schwalben in den Lüften) (Thomas)||3:34|
|with Heinrich Schlusnus, baritone|
(154ap) 76409 
|8.||DON GIOVANNI: Là ci darem la mano (Reich’ mir die Hand, mein Leben) (Mozart)||3:06|
|with Heinrich Schlusnus, baritone|
(155ap) 76410 
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|9.||OBERON: Ozean, du Ungeheuer (Weber)||7:51|
|(1377m) 76455 [B 24036]/(1378m ) 76456 [B 24037]|
|10.||DER WIDERSPENSTIGEN ZÄHMUNG: Es schweige die Klage (Goetz)||4:22|
|(1380m) 76483 [B 24089]|
|11.||DIE LUSTIGEN WEIBER VON WINDSOR: Nun eilt herbei … Hahahaha!—Er wird mir glauben! (Nicolai)||6:20|
|(1381m) 76421 [B 24011]/(1382m) 76422 [B 24012]|
|12.||UNDINE: So wisse, dass in allen Elementen es Wesen gibt (Lortzing)||7:00|
|(1383m) 76484 [B 24090]/(1384m) 76485 [B 24091]|
|13.||DIE TOTEN AUGEN: Psyche wandelt durch Säulenhallen (d’Albert)||2:33|
|(19259L) 74608 [B 4000]|
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|14.||DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG: O Sachs! Mein Freund! (Wagner)||2:24|
|(416as) 76486 [B 24092]|
|15.||DIE WALKÜRE: Der Männer Sippe (Wagner)||3:59|
|(417½as) 76487 [B 24093]|
|16.||DER FREISCHÜTZ: Und ob die Wolke (Weber)||4:22|
|(418as) 76488 [B 24094]|
|17.||LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN: Elle a fui, la tourterelle. Ah! souvenir trop doux! (Sie entfloh, die Taube, so minnig. O grausames Geschick!) (Offenbach)||3:53|
|(419as) 76489 [B 24095]|
|18.||Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2 (R. Strauss)||2:11|
|(420as) 76454 [B 24029]|
|19.||Morgen, Op. 27, No. 4 (R. Strauss)||3:40|
|(42as) 76490 [B 24096]|
|with studio orchestra, conducted by Bruno Seidler-Winkler|
|20.||Der Spielmann (Hildach)||3:56|
|(530as) 76453 [B 24028]|
CD 3 (78:45)
|1.||LA JUIVE: Il va venir (Er kommt zurück) (Halévy)||3:53|
|(531as) 76464 [B 24045]|
|2.||LE NOZZE DE FIGARO: Voi, che sapete che cosa è amor (Ihr, die ihr Triebe des Herzens kennt) (Mozart)||3:11|
|(1121ar) 74615 [B 4010]|
|with members of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Carl Besl|
|3.||MANON: Obéissons quand leur voix appelle … Profitons bien de la jeunesse (Folget dem Ruf, so lieblich zu hören … Nützet die schönen, jungen Tage) [Gavotte] (Massenet)||3:06|
|(xxB 6945) Lxx 80934|
|4.||TOSCA: Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore (Nur der Schönheit weiht’ ich mein Leben) (Puccini)||3:06|
|(xxB 6946) Lxx 80935|
|5.||LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimì (Man nennt mich Mimi) (Puccini)||4:22|
|(xxB 6947) Lxx 80933|
|6.||MANON LESCAUT: L’ho abbandonato … In quelle trine morbide (Hab’ ihn verlassen … Ach, in den kalten Räumen hier) (Puccini)||2:58|
|(xxB 6948) Lxx 80936|
|7.||MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Un bel dì vedremo (Eines Tages seh’n wir) (Puccini)||4:08|
|(xxB 6949) Lxx 80937|
|with members of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Carl Besl|
|8.||MANON: Allons! Il le faut! Pour lui-même! … Adieu, notre petite table (‘s ist für ihn! … Leb’ wohl, mein liebes kleines Tischchen) (Massenet)||3:44|
|(xxB 6952) Lxx 80938|
|9.||TANNHÄUSER: Dich, teure Halle, grüß’ ich wieder (Wagner)||3:12|
|(xxB 6953) Lxx 80939|
|10.||DIE WALKÜRE: Du bist der Lenz (Wagner)||2:06|
|(xxB 6954) Lxx 80940|
|with members of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Georg Szell|
|11.||TANNHÄUSER: Allmächt’ge Jungfrau (Wagner)||4:12|
|(xxB 6972) Lxx 80947|
|12.||OTELLO: Piangea cantando nell’erma landa (Sie saß mit Leide auf öder Heide) [Willow Song] (Verdi)||4:29|
|(xxB 6973) Lxx 80955|
|13.||LOHENGRIN: Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen (Wagner)||3:37|
|(xxB 6974) Lxx 80979|
|with members of Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Georg Szell|
|14.||DIE TOTE STADT: Glück, das mir verblieb (Korngold)||4:14|
|with Richard Tauber, tenor|
(xxB 6993-1) Lxx 80944
|15.||DIE TOTE STADT: Der Erste, der Lieb’ mich gelehrt (Korngold)||3:10|
|(xxB 6994-1) Lxx 80945|
|16.||DIE TOTE STADT: Der Erste, der Lieb’ mich gelehrt (Korngold)||2:54|
|(xxB 6994-2) Lxx 80945|
|with members of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Hermann Weigert|
|17.||DER FREISCHÜTZ: Wie nahte mir der Schlummer (Weber)||4:09|
|(xxB 7239) Lxx 81100|
|18.||DER FREISCHÜTZ: Alles pflegt schon längst der Ruh’ … Leise, leise, fromme Weise (Weber)||3:49|
|(xxB 7240-1) Lxx 81101|
|19.||DER FREISCHÜTZ: Alles pflegt schon längst der Ruh’ … Leise, leise, fromme Weise (Weber)||3:44|
|(xxB 7240-2) Lxx 81101|
|20.||DIE MEISTERSINGER: O Sachs! Mein Freund! (Wagner)||2:39|
|(xxB 7241) O-9518|
|21.||LOHENGRIN: Einsam in trüben Tagen (Wagner)||4:13|
|(xxB 7243) O-9518|
|22.||DER ROSENKAVALIER: Kann mich auch an ein Mädel erinnern (R. Strauss)||3:46|
|(xxB 7244) Lxx 81103|
CD 4 (79:00)
|with members of the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Hermann Weigert|
|Sung in E-flat|
|2.||MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Ah! Quanto cielo! … Ancora un passo or via (Oh! Weiter Himmel! … Bald sind wir auf der Höhe) [Entrance of Butterfly] (Puccini)||2:40|
|with female chorus|
(xxB 7251-1) Lxx 81102
|3.||MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Ah! Quanto cielo! … Ancora un passo or via (Oh! Weiter Himmel! … Bald sind wir auf der Höhe) [Entrance of Butterfly] (Puccini)||2:38|
|with female chorus|
(xxB 7251-2) Lxx 81102
|4.||FAUST: Je voudrais bien savoir … Il était un roi de Thulé (Ich gäb’ was drum … Es war ein könig in Thule) (Gounod)||4:27|
|(xxB 7252) Lxx 80998|
|5.||Stille Nacht (Gruber)||4:21|
|(xxB 7253) Rxx 80600|
|6.||O du fröhliche (Traditional)||3:17|
|(xxB 7254-2) Rxx 80601|
|with Mischa Spoliansky, piano|
|7.||Monatsrose (zu Eulenburg)||1:47|
|with Dajos Béla, violin|
(xxB 7477) O-8703
|8.||Wilde Rose (zu Eulenburg)||2:34|
|with Dajos Béla, violin|
(xxB 7477) O-8703
|9.||Weiße und rote Rose (zu Eulenburg)||2:57|
|(xxB 7478) O-8703|
|10.||Rankende Rose (zu Eulenburg)||2:03|
|(xxB 7479) O-8704|
|11.||Seerose (zu Eulenburg)||2:25|
|(xxB 7479) O-8704|
|(Dajos Béla is one of the stage names used by the Russian violinist Leon Goltzmann, born Kiev, 25 December 1897, died Argentina, 5 November 1978. Under various pseudonyms such as Dajos Béla, Sándor Jozsi, and Leon Leonidoff, he led symphonic, salon, and dance orchestras on several thousand recordings for Odeon and Parlophone between 1921 and 1933.)|
|13.||TURANDOT: In questa reggia, or son mill’anni e mille (In diesem Schloß, vor vielen tausend Jahren) (Puccini)||4:04|
|16 February 1927; (xxB 7609) O-9602|
|14.||TURANDOT: Del primo pianto (Die ersten Tränen) (Puccini-Alfano)||3:15|
|16 February 1927; (xxB 7610) O-9602|
|15.||DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE: Ich ging zu ihm (Korngold)||6:59|
|13 March 1928; (xxB 7997-2, xxB 7998-2) O-8722|
|16.||EVA: So war meine Mutter (Lehár)||3:56|
|3 September 1928; (xxB 8150) issued only on Parlophone R 20275|
|13 June 1929; (Be 8299-2) O-4812|
|13 June 1929; (Be 8300-2) O-4812|
|19.||Die Lotusblume, Op. 25, No. 7 (Schumann)||2:17|
|2 April 1932; (Be 9910) O-4839|
|20.||An den Sonnenschein, Op. 36, No. 4 (Schumann)||1:16|
|2 April 1932; (Be 9911) O-4839|
|21.||Marienwürmchen, Op. 79, No. 14 (Schumann)||1:38|
|2 April 1932; (Be 9911) O-4839|
|22.||Vergebliches Ständchen, Op. 84, No. 4 (Brahms)||2:37|
|26 May 1931; (Be 9497) O-4829|
|23.||Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op. 29, No. 1 (R. Strauss)||2:51|
|13 June 1929; (Be 8303) O-4820|
|24.||Ständchen, Op. 17, No. 2 (R. Strauss)||2:51|
|13 June 1929; (Be 8304) O-4820|
|25.||An die Musik, Op. 88, No. 4, D547 (Schubert)||3:34|
|6 December 1927; (xxB 7873) O-8724|
Languages: All tracks sung in German
Producer: Gary Hickling
Associate Producer: Scott Kessler
Audio Conservation: Ward Marston and J. Richard Harris
Photographs: Gregor Benko, Russ Hornbeck, and André Tubeuf
Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi
Booklet Notes: Michael Aspinall, Daniel Jacobson, and André Tubeuf
Marston would like to thank the following for making rare recordings available for the production of this set:
The estate of Richard Bebb with help from Owen Williams; Gregor Benko; Lawrence F. Holdridge; John Humbley; and André Tubeuf.
Marston would like to thank Axel Weggen and Karsten Lehl for providing digital transfers for CD 3, Track 19 and CD 4, Tracks 5 and 6.
Marston would like to thank Christian Zwarg for providing important discographic information and for providing the transfers for CD 1, Tracks 1 and 2.
Marston would like to thank Elizabeth Black, Stephen Clarke, and Carsten Fischer, for their editorial guidance.
Marston is grateful to the Estate of John Stratton (Stephen Clarke, Executor) for its continuing support.
• • • • •
This set is dedicated to the memory of Richard Bebb, British actor and record collector (1927–2006) who was a great friend to Marston and had a special fondness for Lotte Lehmann.
Charlotte Sophie Pauline Lehmann (“Lotte”) was born on 27 February 1888 in Perleberg, Germany, a town halfway between Berlin and Hamburg. Though Prussian-born and eventually American-naturalized, she came to represent to the world the traditional Viennese qualities of charm, breeding, and warm-heartedness.
Her voice was discovered by a neighbor who had heard her singing while doing housework, and convinced her parents to let Lotte audition for Berlin’s Royal Academy of Music. When she became discouraged there by the focus on oratorio, Lotte moved on to Etelka Gerster’s School of Singing, where she was awarded free tuition and assigned to study with Eva Reinhold. Apparently the Gerster method included using small wooden sticks to keep the student’s mouth open the same amount for every tone, vowel, pitch, and register. This was antithetical to Lehmann’s emerging natural vocal instincts, so within a few months the twenty-year-old was dismissed by Reinhold, whose letter stated “… none of my pupils has ever been such a disappointment as you have … if you want to and have to achieve something in the future, you should take up a practical career.”
Believing this assessment, Lotte’s father enrolled her in a commercial course slated to start within a month. In desperation, she wrote a letter to Mathilde Mallinger, who had been Wagner’s first Eva in Die Meistersinger, begging for a chance to study with her. Mallinger accepted Lehmann into her singing class in Berlin, and Lotte’s voice began to blossom. She progressed rapidly and soon she was encouraged to start learning entire operatic roles, the very first being Agathe in Der Freischütz. Yet Mallinger felt that Lehmann was dramatically weak, so in early 1910 she sent Lotte to study the role from the actor’s perspective with Felix Dahn, stage director at the Berlin Royal Opera.
In September 1910, Lehmann made her debut at the Hamburg Opera as the Second Boy in Die Zauberflöte. During the next four years in that house she performed more than 250 times, both in secondary parts1 and in such solo roles as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Agathe in Der Freischütz, Freia in Das Rheingold, and Micaëla in Carmen.
It was in Hamburg that Lehmann met the young conductor Otto Klemperer, who became a lifelong friend, supporter, and admirer. When another soprano canceled, Klemperer persuaded the Hamburg management to let Lehmann take on Elsa in Lohengrin, with only a week to master the part. With the benefit of Klemperer’s fierce and relentless coaching, that performance on 29 November 1912 as Elsa made Lehmann a star—quite a turnaround for someone who was told she couldn’t act and would never earn a penny with her voice! The press notices were nothing less than glowing. The critic for the Hamburger Fremdenblatt wrote: “The swan knights … have seldom rushed to rescue a more enchanting, more tender Elsa, so touched with romantic magic, as she was outwardly portrayed by Frl. Lehmann. An Elsa without the excesses of the usual prima donna, an Elsa who was all innocence and guilelessness. Artistically too, Frl. Lehmann fulfills her task for the present in a way that is entirely her own … [S]he gives herself up completely to the impressions of the moment and to the dramatic situation.” The Hamburger Neueste Nachrichten critic wrote the following: “When one considers what it means for such a young singer to be suddenly at the center of interest, her performance was of astounding assurance. The voice of Frl. Lehmann has such a pure, heartfelt sound, her emission of tone is so steady and finely cultivated, that the songs of Elsa breathed all the sweetness of youthful innocence ….”
In 1914, while continuing to perform leading roles in Hamburg, Lehmann made her debut as Eva in Die Meistersinger at Vienna’s Court Opera, later to become the Vienna State Opera. She also made her very first recordings, two of Elsa’s arias from Lohengrin. By that time she had already established enough of a reputation to succeed Claire Dux as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier for Thomas Beecham’s season at London’s Drury Lane, and to perform with the Cologne Opera. In the course of another 200 performances over the next thirty months, she added the roles of Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Sieglinde in Die Walküre, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Margiana in Cornelius’s Der Barbier von Bagdad, Angèle in Heuberger’s Der Opernball, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Ada in Weingartner’s Kain und Abel, and Rachel in Halévy’s La Juive. By 1915, Lotte was also doing song recitals and church concerts, including one in February 1916 honoring fallen German soldiers. On 30 May 1916, Lehmann bade farewell to the Hamburg Opera as Myrtocle in Die toten Augen. Four days later she gave a farewell recital of arias by Wagner and songs by Schumann, Brahms, and Richard Strauss.
In August 1916, Lehmann gave her first performance as a regular member of the Vienna Court Opera, singing Agathe in Der Freischütz. She quickly established herself as one of the company’s most beloved stars, and in her twenty-one years there (1916–1937), she sang more than fifty roles. In addition to the German characters generally associated with her, she portrayed the title roles in Mignon, Manon, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica, and Turandot; Mimì in La Bohème, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Marie/Marietta in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt, Heliane in Das Wunder der Heliane, Charlotte in Werther, Silla in Pfitzner’s Palestrina, Helene in the premiere of Bittner’s Die Kohlhaymerin, Blanchefleur in Kienzl’s Der Kuhreigen, Juana in the premiere of Braunfels’ Don Gil, Maddalena in Andrea Chénier, Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust, Tatyana in Eugen Onegin, and Lisa in Pikovaya Dama. Richard Strauss chose her to premiere the Composer in the revised version of Ariadne auf Naxos (1916) and the Dyer’s Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919). She also sang Christine in the world premiere of Intermezzo in Dresden (1924). Strauss was particularly charmed by her performances in Arabella and Der Rosenkavalier. During the Beethoven Centenary in Vienna in 1927, Lehmann’s debut performance as Leonore in Fidelio was critically acclaimed as one of her greatest achievements. She also appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1937, performing under Toscanini, among others, while also giving lieder recitals there with Bruno Walter at the piano. In August 1936, she discovered the Trapp Family Singers, later made famous in The Sound of Music. Exclaiming that the children had a precious gift and the family had “gold in their throats,” Lehmann convinced them to enter the Salzburg Festival contest for group singing the following night for their first-ever public performance, and the rest is history.
During this time Lehmann’s international career blossomed both on the stage and in recital. Heralded in Dresden, Berlin, and Cologne, she became the first German to sing opera in Belgium after World War I. During the summer of 1922, she toured Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil as Freia, Sieglinde, and Gutrune, under Weingartner’s direction. She performed regularly to great acclaim at Covent Garden. There in 1924, under Bruno Walter’s baton, she portrayed the Marschallin for the first time, making her the first soprano in history to have sung all three female lead roles in Der Rosenkavalier. She returned to London almost every year until 1938, performing her famous Wagner and Strauss roles, as well as Desdemona in Otello and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Her performances in Paris, starting in 1928, were highly praised, and in 1929 after a performance of Fidelio, the King of Sweden awarded her the gold medal in Literature and the Arts. Her career in America began with historic performances as Sieglinde during the 1930/1931 season of the Chicago Civic Opera Company. The following year she gave her first New York recitals to sold-out houses. Finally, in 1934, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sieglinde, a debut that has rarely been matched for artistic brilliance, public admiration, and critical acclaim. On 18 February 1935, she graced the cover of Time magazine. Performing widely across the United States every season for the next dozen years, she became one of America’s most beloved singers, her name synonymous at the Met, San Francisco, and Chicago opera houses with the roles of the Marschallin, Sieglinde, Elisabeth, Eva, and Elsa.
Lehmann had very little interest in politics, but her personal and musical lives could not escape the impact of the events of her time. In 1926 she had married Otto Krause, a prosperous Viennese insurance man who became her constant travel companion and greatest advocate. They made their home in Vienna and were enjoying a comfortable life there until rumblings began in Germany. In 1934, Lehmann encountered Hermann Göring, founder of the Gestapo and second in command to Hitler. On 19 April while giving a recital in Dresden, a messenger informed her that Göring was sending his private plane to bring her to Berlin. Upon her arrival the following day, Hitler’s birthday, Heinz Tietjen (the politically important director of several Prussian state theaters) escorted her to Göring, who was troubled by her rising popularity in America. Göring wanted the German-born star to focus her career in Germany and to be an integral part of a “reformation” of opera planned by Göring, Tietjen, and Richard Strauss. (The finer points of this meeting and its subsequent consequences have been recently uncovered and documented by Professor Michael Kater.) It is clear that Lehmann’s responses and approach did not please the Nazi leadership; this, as well as her decision to pursue her growing opportunities in America, led to a rapid decline in the number of her engagements in Germany, though she was still the darling of Austria.
In 1936, things got more complicated and dangerous with the unexpected death of Otto’s first wife, Grete Krause, a wealthy Jewish woman and mother of his four children, now ages 17 to 21. The children joined them in Vienna. In March 1937, Otto, Lotte, and her new accompanist Paul Ulanowsky embarked on a lengthy recital tour in Australia, but Otto became increasingly ill on the trip with what was later diagnosed as tuberculosis. In March 1938, Otto was with Lotte in New York for her Met season when Hitler seized control of Austria. With his half-Jewish children now in mortal danger, Otto rushed back to Austria to try to secure their safe passage to America. Meanwhile, Lotte begged her friends in the United States to help with immigration, while pulling every string she still had in Austria. Otto’s physical condition soon became critical and he was sent to a sanatorium in Switzerland. By then the children had passports and immigration papers for the United States, but their documents to leave Austria were unstamped because of legal issues over their deceased mother’s unpaid taxes. On May 4th, Lehmann was in London at Covent Garden, terrified for Otto’s life and the children’s safety. Midway through the first act of Der Rosenkavalier she collapsed on stage. Unbeknownst to her or Otto, the children decided on their own to pack their bags and board the Orient Express bound for Paris. A few days later, they somehow made their way across the border. The family reunited there and made their way to America, where they applied for U.S. citizenship.
Lotte was away on a recital tour in the Pacific Northwest in late January, 1939 when Otto was suddenly hospitalized with pneumonia. He died before she could get back to New York, delayed because of a blizzard on the East Coast. She never remarried, but found an ideal companion in Dr. Frances Holden, a professor at New York University who specialized in the study of the psychology of genius, particularly that of classical musicians. Lotte and Otto had befriended her a few years earlier, and Otto told Lotte that Holden was the one person she could most rely on after his passing. He was right, and Holden ultimately gave up her own career to live with Lehmann and help manage her affairs. The two drove across the country to California in the summer of 1940, to Santa Barbara, which Lehmann had adored ever since her first visit there in 1936. Holden purchased a dream home high in the foothills for them, but five weeks later it was destroyed in a brush fire, so Holden bought a more modest home with spectacular views overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara’s Hope Ranch area, where they both lived for the rest of their lives. (Holden outlived Lehmann by twenty years, dying in August 1996 at age ninety-seven.) Lehmann named the house Orplid, after Mörike’s 1832 poem “Gesang Weylas” [Weyla’s Song], which appropriately describes its beauty:
Du bist Orplid, mein Land!
[You are Orplid, my land!]
Das ferne leuchtet;
[Gleaming in the distance;]
Vom Meere dampfet dein besonnter Strand
[From the sea steams your sunny shore]
Den Nebel, so der Götter Wange feuchtet.
[Mists rise to moisten the gods’ cheeks.]
Uralte Wasser steigen
[Ancient waters rise]
Verjüngt um deine Hüften, Kind!
[Rejuvenated about your hips, child!]
Vor deiner Gottheit beugen
[Before your divinity bow kings,]
Sich Könige, die deine Wärter sind.
[who are your attendants.]
In the 1940s Lehmann began dropping her operatic roles, while maintaining her recital career. She gave her final Met performance as the Marschallin on 17 February 1945. Four months later, after seven years of waiting and red tape, Lehmann finally became a naturalized American citizen. On 1 November 1946 in Los Angeles, she bade adieu to the opera stage, again as the Marschallin, the role for which she is perhaps best remembered.
For the next seven years Lehmann devoted herself to the concert stage, accompanied by Paul Ulanowsky. Her unrivaled interpretations brought her acclaim as the foremost recitalist of her generation. She broke new ground by becoming the first woman to record the complete Die Winterreise, Die schöne Müllerin, Dichterliebe, and to perform An die ferne Geliebte. She made numerous radio appearances, and by the end of her career had a legacy of more than 400 recordings of operatic literature, religious songs, and lieder. She even appeared in the MGM film Big City, in 1948. Lehmann’s devoted public was shocked when, on 16 February 1951, in the midst of one of her many New York Town Hall recitals, she unexpectedly announced her retirement. She did, however, sing in public several more times, including a benefit recital in Santa Barbara on behalf of the Music Academy of the West, which she had cofounded, along with Otto Klemperer and a group of California arts patrons, in 1947. Her final recital was in Pasadena on 11 November 1951.
During her retirement years, Lehmann continued working as a teacher and author, while pursuing her hobby as a painter. She was the first to give vocal interpretation classes in the U.S.: initially at the Music Academy of the West, then in New York and Chicago, and in London, Vienna, and other major cities. Over the course of sixteen years she taught such esteemed singers as Marilyn Horne, Grace Bumbry, Jeannine Altmeyer, Kay Griffel, Benita Valente, Norman Mittelmann, and Carol Neblett, all of whom enjoyed successful careers with the Metropolitan Opera. Lehmann wrote five books and published dozens of articles on musical subjects. She was prolific as an artist, creating three complete sets of paintings to illustrate the song cycles of Schubert and Schumann, dozens of oil portraits of opera scenarios and personal friends, numerous tile mosaics and paintings, and many other artworks in various media.
Lehmann’s accomplishments were recognized by many special honors during her lifetime, as in 1931 when she became the first German after World War I to receive the French order of the Légion d’honneur. In 1955 she was awarded the Lotte Lehmann Honor Ring by the reopened Vienna State Opera for her contributions “to the glory of Vienna Opera between the two world wars.” In 1960 she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with her star placed at 1735 Vine Street. In 1961 she was given the Austrian Medal of Honor. In honor of her 80th birthday, 27 February 1968 was declared Lotte Lehmann Day in Santa Barbara. She received gifts and telegrams from presidents and various high ranking officials from around the world, and a special concert in her honor was presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. In 1969, the city of Salzburg awarded her the Great Silver Medal, and named a street after her the following year. Honorary doctorates were conferred upon her by the University of California, Santa Barbara, Northwestern University, the University of Portland, Oregon, and Mills College in Oakland, California.
Lotte Lehmann died in Santa Barbara on 26 August 1976 at age eighty-eight, and is interred in the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. Her headstone is inscribed with a quote from Richard Strauss: “Sie hat gesungen, daß es Sterne rührte” (When she sang, she moved the stars).
© Daniel Jacobson,
Professor of Music,
Western Michigan University
I had already been exchanging letters with Lotte Lehmann for several years, every second or third month, without any hope or even an idea of meeting her someday. I knew that she travelled late every spring from California to Bad Gastein for a cure, and enjoyed attending special celebrations in Vienna, or a performance in Salzburg during the festival. Early August 1964 she would of course attend the new production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Remembrances there would be, and plenty. She had had the first break in her young career with the second, Viennese version of Ariadne, where she created the part of the Composer, a sensational start. Then Strauss himself begged her to leave this boyish part; he wanted her as Ariadne for Salzburg, the first attempt there to present a modern opera along with the Mozart ones. She would stay at the Fondachhof, a charming hotel up in the hills, with a beautiful garden. Would I perhaps try to come? Strasbourg (where I lived) should not be so far away. And why not? We had just moved to a larger flat, where I had spent most of July scrubbing floors and cleaning walls, and I felt we quite deserved this short holiday. Finding seats for Ariadne and Christa Ludwig’s Wolf lieder evening at the Mozarteum would be easy no doubt, but for Rosenkavalier (Karajan / Schwarzkopf / Jurinac … yes!) that would be harder. Thus we went, driving on the 30th, spending the whole next day finding seats. It was still possible at that time, but for Rosenkavalier we would have to share two seats among the three of us. The appointment was for 11 a.m. on the 1st of August. I had called Madame at her hotel just to check it was still on, thrilled to hear that deep, strong voice, its somehow raucous quality amplified by the apparatus. This voice, I knew so well through her records, even her spoken voice. I had spent time learning my best German from the incredible enunciation of her reading of Rilke’s “Cornet” (“Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets”). Warmth was the first virtue you noticed in her reading. But now on the phone it seemed so distant, cold. Would I really dare climb up to Fondachhof? And to say … what? I felt fear.
But of course I went. And was on time. And of course she was already in the garden, in a large armchair, quite dressed up, silk and soft colors, her face lightly burnt by sun and open air (she had earlier had her cure in the heights, at Bad Gastein), all smiles and welcome. And warmth. How tiring had it been having to drive so far? How was my wife? The children? Her sole concern was real life today; we could have been lifelong friends, meeting again after years of separation. She had coffee and some Viennese pastries ready on a small table next to her, offered some coffee (and sipped herself) and asked if I had attended Ariadne? Not Ariadne, not yet. The next performance would be on the 2nd. But the Ludwig recital: “Oh it must have been vonderful ...” (during her whole life she must never have been able to drop her German v for the English w) … “she is a very great singer. But I did not like her Ariadne at all. Ariadne should soar. Strauss parts should alvays soar.” Then she sent a big warm smile to two poodles, which a fair, elegant lady on heels was walking in the grass just then. But the lady did not get a smile, though she was quite obviously looking for one. Hilde Güden she was, also staying at Fondachhof. At the same moment a second floor window opened in front of us. That was the window of Jurinac, whose head appeared there just a little while later in the fresh midday air. Lehmann raised her own head, with some very special warmth coming into her eyes. “Oh this one is vonderful. She alone is the way we were, in our time. Direct. Free of the sophistications of today …. “ Of course Jurinac had sung the Composer in the Ariadne performance, the part Lehmann had adored, hating to have to leave it. In performances, when she turned to singing Ariadne, she never resisted staying in the wings to watch the Composer pour out the beautiful hymn to Music, which soared.
So we talked for a whole hour. She had brought the brand new LP reissue of her Schöne Müllerin, on the cover of which she inscribed the most charming words. I could feel I was welcome. That was the first step. The following years I had to go to Vienna regularly in June for the exams at the French school. A pleasing task, since from Vienna, the train to Bad Gastein was an easy trip and there the entire weekend I was her guest. There she lived in the central front suite, which had been Toscanini’s favorite, and the whole staff (as well as the hotel guests) would treat her as royalty. A lady from former times, with a smile and a warmth and a kindness of her own.
©André Tubeuf, 2016
THE ART OF LOTTE LEHMANN
“The house listened to the magic and shimmer of the Lament, and at the end it was greeted with unbridled joy.” [review of Ariadne auf Naxos, Salzburg 1926]
These acoustic records, covering a wide range of operatic roles, explain why Lotte Lehmann held such a grip on the affections of her hearers. A very beautiful, limpid voice certainly helped, and these angelic tones would deepen in richness as the years went by without losing any of their youthful purity, while Lehmann was one of the few singers who could triumph over the discomforts and limitations of the recording studio to leave us valid souvenirs of her stage performances.
One evening she was singing Euridice at the Hamburg opera; as she came offstage she bumped into Enrico Caruso, who was observing everything from the wings as he waited to sing in Pagliacci, the second half of the double-bill. He greeted her with: “Ah, brava, brava! Che bella magnifica voce! Una voce italiana!” Caruso was right: Lehmann’s voice has a warm, sunny timbre. Her technique is solid and firmly based on Italian principles: she has three properly developed and blended registers constituting a seamless scale. She can take the upper F (fifth line) and G either forte or piano without any hooty or strangled sounds—she avoids the voce fissa so disliked by Latin opera-goers.
In her autobiography Anfang und Aufstieg (Vienna: Herbert Reichner Verlag, 1937), translated by Margaret Ludwig as Wings of Song (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., 1938), Lotte Lehmann describes in enchanting detail the tribulations of her student days. It was always recognized that she had a beautiful natural quality of voice, but her first teachers did not seem to inspire her with any great confidence in her own possibilities. From the Berlin Hochschule she passed into the private academy of the great soprano Etelka Gerster, who entrusted the development of Lotte’s talent to a Fräulein Eva Reinhold, whose teaching methods as described by Lotte (including singing with a pencil firmly gripped between the teeth) make entertaining reading but left poor Lotte, at the end of the first year, with impaired vocal quality and a lifelong dread of Mozart’s “Dove sono i bei momenti”. She had more luck with Mathilde Mallinger, Wagner’s first Eva in Die Meistersinger, with whom she studied for a year, and who was able to demonstrate in their very first lesson how to free the throat and sing in an unconstricted fashion: “… this year really first revealed the potentialities of my voice. She was the right teacher for me.” It is related of Mallinger that, during a rehearsal for Die Meistersinger in Munich in 1868, she naughtily interpolated a magnificent trill into her phrase “Keiner wie du so hold zu werben weiss!” Wagner looked at her and laughed and said: “Let her have her fun. We’ll keep the trill since Mallinger likes it so much”—and he wrote it into the score. It is pleasing to report that Lotte’s trill is excellent (for example, on the word “lispeln” in “Ozean, du Ungeheuer”) and that she speaks very highly of Mallinger’s teaching, in later years quoting her as the major influence on her singing technique: “the Mallinger sang to me—and the whole time I felt: ‘Yes, that’s how it ought to be! Yes, that’s the way!’ and I found the right way myself and felt my voice pour from my throat freer than ever before.” Once her vocal emission was freed, her own personality and imagination began to illuminate her singing, and she lost all her initial gaucheness. It was during her year with Mallinger that Lotte first began to give singing lessons herself—for only one Mark a lesson!
When she secured her first contract, with the Hamburg Opera in 1910, she began to study with Alma Schadow, the teacher of her friend and colleague Elisabeth Schumann. “I owe a great deal to her. I was with Hedwig Francillo-Kaufmann too, and tried to learn the secret of her silvery agility. Katharina Fleischer-Edel also took a kindly concern in my voice. In Vienna I studied for a short time with the unforgettable Elise Elizza and Frau Professor Brossement, with whom one’s voice is in such very good hands. Particularly stimulating I found the chamber-music singer, Frau Felicia Kaszowska. A maestro of the old school of Jean de Reszke and Lamperti, grown great in a time whose brilliance has already become for us a proud tradition, she is well fitted to transmit her rich experiences to those who come so eagerly to learn from her.”
With so many teachers, and so many colleagues in Vienna and Berlin from whom she could learn as she sang with them, it is hardly surprising that Lotte Lehmann, apparently absorbing information like a sponge, should have developed a highly personal and eclectic vocal technique. In comparison with the famous sopranos of the German school who had preceded her, her voice was wonderfully free, human, and full of passionate color. It developed into a big voice, always under control, with a fresh timbre that she kept unimpaired until she was over fifty. The medium and high registers had a luscious quality unknown to German sopranos of the previous generation. Singers like Lilli Lehmann, but also Lotte’s contemporary and fellow Strauss specialist Margarethe Siems, were capable of feats of elaborate coloratura singing that Lotte could never have emulated, but their vocal methods were such that they had to cautiously maneuver from one note to the next; not for them the gloriously spontaneous outbursts of Lotte Lehmann, whose personally rationalized and well thought-out vocal technique gave her admirable security and a sound base for her eloquent interpretations. It allowed her to sing freely, with an open throat, and without any of the cautious squeezing we hear in records of some other German sopranos. The older school—typified by Lilli Lehmann—had trained the soprano voice by cleverly developing the head register as much as possible and carrying the head resonance down right through the vocal range. (This reminds us of Mathilde Marchesi’s war-cry: “Toujours la voix de tête.”) Lotte Lehmann seems to have escaped the most rigid aspects of this discipline, yet her voice is perfectly placed “in the mask” all through its range. Mainly because of her choice of repertoire in the last decade of her theatrical career she is not remembered as a purveyor of thrilling high notes, but on these acoustic records she takes the high B and C, and even the D-flat, with fearless aplomb and brilliance. However, unlike some of her celebrated colleagues, she does not seem to have bothered to learn how to take these altitudinous notes piano or pianissimo. Technique, in Lotte Lehmann’s singing, is never exhibited for its own sake, for her every utterance seems spontaneous rather than calculated, and listening to her in the theater probably only the most experienced connoisseurs would appreciate how skilled a singer she really was. What nobody could miss is the thrillingly communicative nature of her singing: comparing her two records from Tannhäuser is instructive. In Elisabeth’s greeting to the Hall of Song, the primitive recording is unable to quench anything of the radiant joy and sparkle of her apostrophe “Dich, teure Halle, grüß’ ich wieder”, while even the quieter passages seem to throb with the carefully controlled vibrations of an underground volcano of passion that might erupt at any moment. On the other hand, in Elisabeth’s prayer all is serenity, and she casts her spell without drawing on her hidden reserves of seething temperament.
She made one of her earliest appearances as a lieder singer in a Hamburg concert in January 1915, singing songs by Mendelssohn, Mahler, and Strauss. When she stepped from the opera house to the concert hall, she did not need to make any adjustments to her technique or style. As we hear in these early recordings, her stage experience had taught her to vary the color and intensity of her timbre, to “paint” her phrases and render them always interesting. Although I have never seen a film of her singing, we can hear that she drops her jaw loosely (as recommended by Melba in the Melba Method, London: Chappell & Co., 1926) and that her tongue is free to pronounce vowels and consonants with the neatest clarity and without any necessity for exaggeration. When asked by a correspondent to explain the secret of her wonderfully clear enunciation, Lotte replied, in a charming letter of 13 January 1936: “I am greatly embarrassed that I am at a loss as to how to answer your question. I never think of my diction for one moment, and I am sure that this is a very precious gift from Heaven and that nobody could praise me but rather that the good Lord should be praised instead who has given it to me! I think it is the way the voice is placed, which makes a good speaker.”
The only serious flaw we can detect in her singing is a tendency to noisy intakes of breath (audible even in some of these acoustic records, painfully so in some of the later electrics,) allied to a lack of sufficient breath to sustain very long phrases; this might be the result of her studies with Alma Schadow, who taught clavicular (shallow) breathing (to Elisabeth Schumann, for example). Normally Lotte is so expert in her phrasing as to lull us into not noticing that she will take two breaths in the middle of a phrase that her rivals sing in one breath, such as “O mi rendi il mio tesoro” in “Porgi amor”.
An aria that particularly suits her voice and style, and into which she launches herself with enormous gusto, is “Der Erste, der Lieb’ mich gelehrt” from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt; here we cannot help noticing that although sustained, urgent, and ecstatic singing in a high tessitura—rising to a thrilling high C—costs her no effort, and leaves her vocally fresh at the end, her tone remaining unfailingly warm and lovely, this kind of energetic singing sorely taxes her breath supply, and she takes innumerable extra breaths to replenish her resources. Despite her failings, we can say that in all these recordings we can hear the voice floating on the breath in the correct, classical Italian style, with never a hint of forcing. It was her freedom of vocal emission that enabled her to sing even quick “patter” in the German language with such distinct enunciation and always maintaining the legato.
Many, even most, of these recordings might be held up as ideal versions of the particular arias or duets featured, despite the German translations of the foreign texts. Was she a controversial artist? Certainly some German connoisseurs have told me that they do not enjoy her provincial accent, but I do not know enough of German to judge this. She belonged to the first generation of singers to introduce the “glottal stop” from spoken into sung German, but she is inconsistent in this: sometimes she will sing “Mein Herz” and sometimes “Mein’erz”, and in the opening line in Wagner’s “Schmerzen” she sings “Sonne, weinest jeden / [glottal stop] Abend Dir die schönen Augen [legato] rot”. Whenever she does introduce the glottal stop she tries to maintain her legato, thus not really separating the words.
Some modern critics have foolishly complained that she introduces too many rallentandi and portamenti di voce into her lieder recordings, forgetting that she was born in 1888 and remains an artist of her epoch. Like other colleagues who worked frequently with Richard Strauss between 1920 and 1940, she probably used gradually less portamento and unwritten rubato as she felt public and critical taste changing. Some critics believe that the career of the lieder singer is somehow a sacred mission superior to the work of the mere opera singer, but the greatest lieder singers—like Lotte Lehmann, Heinrich Schlusnus, Gerhard Hüsch, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, or Richard Tauber—were opera singers trained to be able to effortlessly express, without exaggeration, the meaning of words set to music, and with long experience in honing their technique and style on the stage. Lehmann’s records of Halévy’s “Il va venir” or Thomas’s “Elle est là! Près de lui!” already show all the eloquence, all the variety of expression that she would later bring to her interpretations of lieder.
WAGNER AND STRAUSS
It is in her later, electrical recordings and broadcasts that we get really satisfactory and lengthy extracts from her Wagner and Strauss roles, but among these acoustic titles are some gems. Her very first recording, a Pathé disc of two scenes from Lohengrin, was made in 1914, two years after her successful first appearance as Elsa in Hamburg. The Hamburgischer Correspondent wrote: “An Elsa so human, so unpretentious, such as one does not often get to see and hear.… They will tell her that this or that must be done differently, they will try to instill in her all the experiences of all the Elsas who ever stood on a stage. If she relies entirely upon her own experiences, she will be the Elsa that Elsa should be and must be.” Despite the crude Pathé recording system, we can clearly hear that this young soprano is already the Lotte Lehmann we know and love. She does sound lighter than in later recordings of the same pieces, though hardly younger, for the voice retained all the freshness of youth well into the 1930s. The chest voice is weaker than it would later be, but the whole range of the voice is under exquisite control. She is scrupulous in observing all the composer’s markings, like the upward portamento at “Ich hört’ ihn fernhin”, and all the acciaccature and mordents are cleanly and precisely executed. She tries to observe every crescendo and diminuendo. Even on these first recordings she is committing to wax interpretations, not just executions.
She rerecorded “Einsam in trüben Tagen” in 1925 and “Euch Lüften” in 1924, both for Odeon. Now she can get more animation and warmth into the second section of Elsa’s Dream, though here and in Elsa’s Song to the Breezes she is less careful about detail than in 1914. Her piano singing is lovely but, if the vowel is E or I, the tone is not so pure as on the earlier records, though when she sings pianissimo on “In Liebe!” she enchants us. (In Lotte’s electrical recording of these pieces, made in 1930, there is no loss of ravishing vocal quality and she is able to make several further interpretative points by purely vocal means, such as the cunning suggestion of actually falling asleep when Elsa sings “ich sank in süssen Schlaf”, and her girlish excitement as she describes her vision of a knight in shining armor.) Another wonderful record from Lohengrin is “Du Ärmste kannst wohl nie ermessen,” a duet that she recorded as a solo—without an Ortrud—for Grammophon in 1917, singing the glorious big tune slowly, bringing out all its beauty, and again observing the composer’s carefully annotated dynamics—some great crescendos—and, like nineteenth-century singers, executing all the gruppetti, turns and mordents slowly and distinctly. This record constitutes a master-class in Wagnerian singing.
Elisabeth’s prayer from Tannhäuser is more successful in the Grammophon recording of 1917 than in the Odeon of 1924. The Grammophon recordings often caught the beauty of the voice more fully than the Odeons, which, though clear and closely recorded, are sometimes hard in timbre. In 1917 she sang the piece so slowly that a large cut had to be made in the music, but we can fully appreciate the ethereal beauty of the voice, particularly on the upper F and G. We ask ourselves: how does she contrive to sound as if she is actually praying? In Elisabeth’s greeting “Dich, teure Halle” her tones are vibrant and she rises to a triumphant high B at the conclusion. It is interesting to hear how impulsive and ecstatic her Sieglinde was as early as 1919, in “Du bist der Lenz”; all the notes above C (third space) are particularly beautiful, and she creates the desired crescendo of volume and excitement quite effortlessly. She is equally successful with Eva’s apostrophe from Die Meistersinger, “O Sachs! Mein Freund!” where she suggests the building up of excitement without the aid of a full orchestral support, and sails through the high-lying passages with radiant tone. Her magnificent high B natural, clumsily placed by Wagner on the word “Freund” reminds us that even this genial composer could often nod; and surely this note would have been more effective if it had come at the end of the piece. The 1925 Odeon recording is perhaps even better sung than the earlier Grammophon version. Notice how scrupulously she suggests the final consonants of “Zwang” on the high A, only slightly compromising the beauty of the note. This is followed by the delicious phrase “Euch selbst, mein Meister” most touchingly expressed, with loving reverence, with a tiny pause before “mein Meister”.
The duet from Die Meistersinger with Michael Bohnen is a wonderful example of imaginative Wagner singing. In this, a clever attempt by Wagner to echo the Italian opera buffa style, Lehmann clearly enunciates every syllable without ever losing the basic legato. She expresses every changing shade of emotion in this crucial scene, which exposes so much of the personalities of two rather complicated characters. Bohnen is not quite on her level: his style is rather too staccato, and the words are spat out rather than bound together in legato. However, we are grateful to hear in this music such a brilliant voice, well placed in the mask, with easy high and low notes. He attempts a vivid and colorful characterization, without any of the grotesque caricaturing that he offers in the Final Trio from Gounod’s Faust.
The Marschallin’s monologue “Kann mich auch an ein Mädl erinnern” is a charming Odeon of 1925. It is a change to hear a youthful Princess with a fresh, unworn voice. The very last notes of some phrases begin to quiver and tremble, showing imperfect support, but even this might pass for expression!
This group introduces a musicological problem: the appoggiatura. Singers of Lilli Lehmann’s generation would always insert all the appoggiature in the music of Mozart, Weber, and Beethoven. (Liszt even includes them in his piano transcription of “O terra addio” from Aida.) During Lotte’s career, however, some unimaginative and ill-informed German pedants were beginning to insist that singers should sing only the written notes, without changing anything, creating a confusion that still persists today, even though several authoritative explanatory texts, like those of Garcia and Lablache, are once more in print. As we can hear, Lotte sometimes includes the appoggiatura and sometimes not: it likely depended on the advice of the teacher with whom she studied a specific aria.
Two great arias by Weber, “Ozean, du Ungeheuer” and “Leise, leise” are among her most indispensable Grammophon recordings, and reveal the full panoply of the glorious Lehmann talent, especially if we add to them Frau Fluth’s aria “Nun eilt herbei” from Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. The aria “Und ob die Wolke” from Der Freischütz also allows us to examine Lehmann’s technique closely, for though Weber appears to be writing a fairly simple cavatina, with the vocal range mostly sitting comfortably between E-flat (first line) and F (fifth line), the vocal writing focuses a pitiless searchlight on the voice and technique, a test from which Lotte emerges triumphantly. This is one of her most impressive achievements, even though the tempo is slightly hurried to fit the aria onto one record side. When she attacks a particularly brilliant and flawlessly supported high A-flat at the end of the first strophe, she manages to carry the angelic head resonance all the way down the following descending scale. The next phrase, “Das Auge, ewig rein und klar” begins on E-flat (first line) and rises an octave: now the sound is different, because she is able to carry some chest resonance up to the highest note, her registers being so perfectly blended.
Lehmann’s is one of the best recordings of “Ozean, du Ungeheuer” from Oberon, an aria awkwardly written for the voice. She boldly contrasts chest, medium, and head registers, passing nimbly from the highest to the lowest notes. Her voice responds immediately to her thought: she has grasped the feeling behind each contrasting section. It is not her fault that she has to sing “Hüon!” on the repeated high A in the coda, and, with typical scruple, she even sings the high B-flat and subsequent descending and ascending scale on the (clearly pronounced) word “Rettung!” where most sopranos substitute “Ah!” After an almost unobtrusive snatched breath she attacks a fine high C in the closing bars.
Her performance of Nicolai’s “Nun eilt herbei” is in the same class as the two Weber arias: none can match her achievement here. Like Frau Fluth herself, Lotte evidently believed that “Frohsinn und Laune würzen das Leben”—cheerfulness and good humor add spice to life. She demonstrates how the interplay between recitative and melody should be managed, and her coloratura—unlike the brilliant cascades of pure head tones offered by some rival interpreters—is all the more effective because sung in full voice and well supported, brilliant, and “forward”. Her (rarely heard) trills are excellent.
One of her rarest recordings, a double-sided account of the aria “So wisse, dass in allen Elementen” from Lortzing’s Undine, is a worthy appendix to the above, as it is a piece of watered-down Weber, pretty but over-ambitious. Lehmann holds our attention with her spirit, charm, and unfailingly lovely tone. She follows the cuts indicated in the score, but does not shirk her two final high Bs, easy and thrilling. Katherine’s last solo from Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung by Hermann Goetz is an odd choice, as she does not appear to have sung this opera until 1927/1928 in Vienna. The unmemorable music is beautifully vocalized. She often sang Myrtocle in d’Albert’s Die toten Augen—though only in Hamburg—and the delightful song “Psyche wandelt durch Säulenhallen” was a favorite of her audiences.
Two takes were published of the aria from Die tote Stadt: both show her command of her voice in melodious declamation, requiring the crescendo and diminuendo. In the first take she sustains the high C, which for a moment, however, seems to be about to slip out of control. In the second take she does not sustain the C. The famous duet from this opera is a souvenir of the many operas in which Richard Tauber partnered her. (She was also featured frequently in performances with Alfred Piccaver, Leo Slezak, and Jan Kiepura.) Her opening solo would be enough to explain why the adjective “radiant” was so often applied to her; Tauber sings the reprise of the melody with a legato the equal of hers, but when she soars up to a secure and full-voiced B-flat, we hear him, an octave below, “cheating” with a typical Tauber piano B-flat, relying on Lotte to cover up for him. Delightful!
Although Lehmann would beg her friend Elisabeth Schumann not to come into the recital hall until she had finished her Mozart group, some of her records reveal her as a supremely accomplished Mozart singer. Even “Voi che sapete”, an aria from a role she never sang, and which she does not bother much to characterize, has its interest for musicologists, for she sings it at the correct tempo, the same as adopted by Tetrazzini, with the occasional meaningful rallentando and accelerando. “Porgi amor” is a very good performance, her tone perfectly suggesting the Contessa’s plight. She does not include the appoggiaturas. “Deh vieni, non tardar” may be the best recording ever of this aria. She sings all the appoggiaturas. Her approach is curiously similar to that of Marcella Sembrich (1906); both sing the aria very slowly, at what must be the traditional Vienna tempo. Lehmann has youth on her side: her voice is impeccably produced, the upper F of ravishing quality whether piano or forte, the low notes full and rounded. It is true that occasionally she snatches an extra breath, but in the final bars her sustained singing is a miracle of beauty. Today this aria, also, is always taken much too quickly. Her duets with Heinrich Schlusnus are luxurious indeed, with two singers of the highest stature lovingly making music together. “Là ci darem la mano” is a charming version, with no metronomic rigidity, and the final section is taken, properly, allegro, as the score indicates and as was always done before Fritz Busch came along. The duets from Le nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte are almost ideal performances; one could only wish that her Susanna were a little more teasing and that she and Pamina would sing as softly as Schlusnus when the score asks for it.
The most unforgettable of Lehmann’s records of Italian opera are the two selections from Suor Angelica, which she created for Vienna in 1920. Puccini attended the first performance and was so overwhelmed, so disfigured by crying, that he did not dare go to congratulate Lotte in her dressing room, but wrote to her later. In a letter to Sybil Seligman, he said: “with the good Lehmann (she’s German, it’s true) but a fine, delicate artist—simple and without any of the airs of a prima donna, with a voice as sweet as honey!” (Quoted by Alan Jefferson in his excellent biography, Lotte Lehmann 1888–1976, London: Julia MacRae Books, 1988). No wonder Puccini liked her—she reveals a true “Puccini voice” with a solid middle and a capacity for expansion around the upper F and above, warm all the way through. She gives us an excellent rendering of “Senza mamma” even though the concluding high A pianissimo—not a typical Lehmann effect—is not entirely convincing technically, though emotionally satisfying; she daringly reaches the note through an upward portamento, suggesting a glissando on the violin. In her final scene, “Amici fiori” (“Preziosi fiori” in later editions of the score) one of opera’s most tear-jerking moments, in which Sister Angelica gathers the plants with which she intends to poison herself, she is eloquence personified and her splendidly rich low notes make her triumphant high B natural sound even more impressive.
She sang Manon Lescaut frequently, and her record of “In quelle trine morbide” has some nice soft singing, but the concluding high B-flat sounds rather hard—should we blame the Odeon technicians? Lehmann made no fewer than five recordings of “Mi chiamano Mimì” an aria in which the German text sits particularly badly on Puccini’s melodic lines. Perhaps her 1924 Odeon is the most charming version, even though her shortness of breath is cruelly exposed. “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, taxes her less; the opening phrases are very fine, and later some liberal ritardandi are effective. Although we do not expect from her, and neither does she give us, a virtuoso diminuendo on the final descent from B-flat, this is altogether a very fine version of the aria, tragic in style, accurate in execution, and vocally almost comparable with Melba and Eames. Two Odeon records of 1924-5 have preserved for us a fascinating glimpse of her Cio-Cio-San. “Un bel dì vedremo” is a very satisfactory version, vocally impeccable, with plenty of color and contrast. The entrance of Butterfly is a famous record just because of her soaring high D-flat (absent from the earlier Grammophon version), but the whole record is a delight—even the chorus is good. The high B-flat on “ove s’accoglie” is slightly disappointing, nothing like the exquisitely radiant note that Edith Mason produces on her recording, but the fault may be due to the engineer. Two takes were published, the first perhaps slightly the better as a recording. It is an exciting experience to hear a Butterfly whose full lyric soprano can float above the chorus with all the ease of a lighter voice.
Her record of Desdemona’s willow song makes us sorry that she did not record the complete scene. She achieves a strange but haunting sound on the repeated cries of “Weide!” (Willow), which are meant to sound as if coming from afar. Did she close her mouth to do this, I wonder? As the German text fits the music well, this is altogether a splendid version of the aria.
“Il va venir” from La Juive is a fine example of how a great artist can make real music out of a piece that in other hands may sound mediocre. She opens with beautiful soft singing in a flawless legato, carefully observing all Halévy’s dynamic markings. She is delightfully elastic in her use of rhythm, avoiding any metronomic rigidity. (Her idiosyncratic elasticity of rhythm did not appeal to the more strictly pedantic among German musicians: the musical director at Dresden, Fritz Busch, did not like Lotte and criticized her severely at rehearsals for inaccuracy, but Strauss commented: “If you think Mme Lehmann is not singing exactly what I wrote, you are correct. But when Lehmann ‘swims’ it is still far preferable, so far as I am concerned, to others who may sing absolutely correctly.” (Alan Jefferson, op. cit., p. 82.) A contrasting dramatic middle section is followed by a short cut, and then comes the reprise of the big tune—“et cependant” in which she uses a rather glottal attack in the passage of dotted notes, but executes gracefully the gruppetto that leads her up to high A-flat, followed by a group of descending triplets, cleanly articulated. The high C-flat in the cadenza holds no terrors for her. Perhaps unexpectedly, this is one of her greatest records.
She is a delightful Micaëla, witty and determined. All the notes above the stave are lovely, while in 1917 the low notes are still comparatively weak. An occasional shortness of breath and the odd, unsteady note, like the final E-flat, might well be taken as due to Micaëla’s nervousness! She sang sixty performances of Massenet’s Manon in Vienna alone, so it is not surprising that she offers an overwhelming version of “Adieu, notre petite table” with perhaps almost too much expression in the recitative, in which her impassioned style suggests verismo. Her 1919 recording of the Gavotte is lighter and more sparkling than the Odeon of 1924, though the later recording benefits from an increased richness in her middle register. In both she can clearly differentiate between all of the composer’s markings—portamento, staccato, tenuto etc.—and she crowns the aria with some brilliant high B-naturals, though perhaps they are rather Wagnerian in volume and weight for a piece of elegant French fluff. She must have been an enchanting Mignon, to judge especially from one of my favorite records of hers, the scene the score introduces as “Récit.- cantabile et duetto”. Lehmann gives us a marvelous example of eloquent recitative singing, soaring easily to the high C when Mignon’s anguish overcomes her. Her florid passages are clean, neat, and full-voiced. The German text of “Connais-tu le pays?” is Goethe’s original, and the obstinate forcing of it into the score seriously hurts the music, but the Germans loved it and so, obviously, did Lotte. Both her acoustic recordings of “Kennst du das Land?” are full of feeling, even slightly overdone, but she adopts an attractive fluttering tone in the later Odeon, which is less lugubrious than the Grammophon issue. In Antonia’s aria from Les contes d’Hoffmann she is again at her best, offering some carefully sculpted portamenti.
Lehmann kept Margarethe in Gounod’s Faust in her repertoire until 1933, and she had all the qualifications for this complex role, including the facility and brilliance in coloratura required by the Jewel Song, which she unfortunately never recorded. Her record of Marguerite’s impassioned soliloquy at her window, “Il m’aime” is one of the best, even though the tempo is perhaps a little too fast: her tone is unfailingly limpid, even in the high-lying passages, despite the sense of mounting ecstasy that pervades her impassioned singing, crowning the whole with a dazzling high C. In the final trio of the opera, in which she is rather distantly placed, she sings the trying high tessitura with ease and with great sweep and élan.
Tatiana’s letter scene from Eugen Onegin is rather ungratefully written for the soprano, for all the best tunes seem to be given to the orchestra. However, Lotte has recorded only the closing pages, singing most beautifully and bringing out the contrast between the different sections.
The revelation of Lotte Lehmann the great lieder singer would come in her electrical recordings. For Grammophon she recorded two Strauss songs, “Morgen” in which she makes a rare musical error, and “Cäcilie” in which she sounds curiously uncomfortable, and it is perhaps significant that although she continued to sing this song frequently, she made no other published studio recording of it. It is in “Der Spielmann,” a once beloved song by the forgotten Eugen Hildach, that she reveals something of her precious talents as a concert singer, which she was already developing, and would bring into glorious maturity under the guidance of Bruno Walter, with whom she would work frequently from 1924. “Der Spielmann” is an attractive and effective song with violin obbligato (also recorded beautifully by Alma Gluck) in which a deluded maiden begs a street violinist to go and play somewhere else: his tunes remind her of a younger violinist who, some years before, asked for no money but took the roses she was wearing, and with them, her heart. Into this sensuous trifle Lotte pours all the Lehmann magic, gracing the melody with a tasteful echo of her excellent violinist’s portamento and delicately pointing the key phrases. (She makes one mistake in the words.) She is able to give Hildach the appassionato and sempre molto espressivo that he calls for, without any hint of exaggeration. Like the greatest of singers, she is able to intensify her tone when she climbs up the scale, without increasing the volume. With her voice properly supported, she is able to swell and diminish the tone and color it appropriately in the same classic style that we hear from Callas in the Mad Scene from I puritani, or from Patti in “Ah, non credea mirarti.”
Her last acoustic session on 5 August 1926 produced truly excellent recordings of the “Rosenlieder” cycle of Philipp zu Eulenberg (1847–1921), which were obviously expected to be best-sellers, for these songs were highly popular among the bourgeoisie, but electrical recording would come along a few months later and these titles would become obsolete. Curiously, the Odeon company announced these titles in May 1927 as part of a list of “electric recordings,” so maybe this is why Decca issued them in America in the thirties. Perhaps in later years she might have been embarrassed at the thought that her first ever recording of a lieder-cycle was this mediocre production by an aristocratic dilettante, a close friend of the Kaiser, who became involved in sexual scandals, which do not seem to have affected the sales of his songs, sheet music copies of which turn up frequently in flea markets. Lehmann is heard at her best: how beautifully she alternates dramatic declamation with haunting legato in “Weiße und rote Rose” particularly effective after her beautifully serene singing of “Seerose.” The wild rose (“Wilde Rose”) has thorns; how bitterly, yet without exaggeration, she sings “Dornen!” In “Rankende Rose” (the Crimson Rambler) she amusingly affects the coy, soubrettish intonations of the typical light Viennese soprano (“wake not the maid from her sleep!”).
A FEW ELECTRICAL RECORDINGS
CLOSE THIS SET
“Artistically and spiritually, I found my home in Vienna—a home more lovely and satisfying than I could ever have dreamed.” In her early days Lotte Lehmann had often sung in operetta, and the aria from Lehár’s Eva offers us a charming glimpse of this forgotten aspect of her art: she proves to be a mistress of the light, half-sung, half-spoken, almost unsupported vocalizing typical of operetta stars like Fritzi Massary, and how lovely is her speaking voice! She reserves her full voice for the waltz-song that concludes the piece.
Lehmann created Puccini’s Turandot for Vienna in October 1926, with Leo Slezak as Calaf, and on 16 February 1927 her first electrical recordings were of two arias from the opera. At that time the music was not yet well-known, so many people would not have realized that in “In questa reggia” our Lotte simply left out the final phrase, that should ascend to the high C. I wonder what she did in the theater. Although the part of Turandot is cruelly written for the voice, Lehmann eagerly accepted it and her performance is effective as she intensifies her tone and places all the high-lying passages with the security of a gleaming silver trumpet. At the same time, the warmth and richness of her medium register add a touch of humanity not often available to the typical dramatic soprano who specializes in Turandot. Few other sopranos have recorded “Del primo pianto” an excerpt from Alfano’s finale, so her touching singing of it is quite unrivalled.
Lehmann created the role of Heliane in Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane at the Vienna State Opera in October 1927, after her arch-rival Maria Jeritza had refused the part. Although it was yet another great success for her, the opera soon disappeared from the repertoire so we are grateful that Lotte recorded the big aria “Ich ging zu ihm,” which she sings so beautifully that we do not object to the rather derivative quality of the music, which strays dangerously near kitsch. Lehmann’s richly burnished tones are perfectly suited to the languorously sweeping arches of this music.
The many electric lieder and song records she made for the Odeon label preserve her unique way of marrying beautiful singing to a sincere and eloquent, unmannered enunciation of the words, without any fuss. Middle-class taste of the times seems to have convinced Odeon that an accompaniment by pianoforte and string trio, or even a salon orchestra, would be more pleasing to customers than the original piano accompaniments written by Schubert, Schumann, or Brahms. So lovely is Lehmann’s singing that I am prepared to overlook certain infelicities in these—sometimes schmaltzy—orchestrations.
She tactfully differentiates between the two characters (lass and lad) in Brahms’s “Vergebliches Ständchen” without exaggeration or coyness, and here the bogus orchestra does not seem too incongruous. It somewhat spoils her performances of some Schumann songs, but how ravishingly she sings them! Strauss’s “Ständchen” is a breath of fresh air, despite the semitone downward transposition (was she no longer comfortable with all those F-sharps?), and, on “the other side of the record”, the owners of the original 78 got a haunting contrast in “Traum durch die Dämmerung”. She recorded, for Odeon, only the last two of Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder”. In “Schmerzen”, declaimed in luscious and pealing tones, how beautiful is her attack on the first word—“Sonne”—it is a D, one of her best notes, and full of sunshine. In contrast, “Träume” exploits some of her lovely low notes and her sustained legato.
Especially beautiful is Schubert’s “An die Musik”, apparently a favorite song of Lehmann’s, which incidentally she would give as an encore at the close of her farewell recital in New York’s Town Hall on 16 February 1951. Though recorded in 1927, this exquisite performance brings us close to nineteenth-century styles of lieder singing: she sings quietly but with meaningful intensity, introducing plenty of rubato, clearly at one with her conductor, Manfred Gurlitt—though singer and orchestra are not always absolutely together. This wonderful record should be a revelation and an inspiration to any lieder singer or accompanist.
Few singers have been so beloved: her Hamburg audiences did not want to let her go to Vienna, and if her Vienna audiences had known, when she sang Der Rosenkavalier with Elisabeth Schumann in September 1937, that this would turn out to be her last ever performance there, there would have been an overwhelming demonstration of affection. I well remember opera-lovers in London in the 1950s raving about her Marschallin and her Sieglinde—for those who saw and heard her, she could never be replaced.
©Michael Aspinall, 2016
Lotte Lehmann is today revered for her stellar portrayals of Sieglinde and The Marschallin with commercial recordings and Metropolitan Opera broadcasts giving testament to her in those roles. These highly regarded historic documents have been continuously available together with her no less admired performances of lieder. But most of the recordings now available of this great singer were made during the second half of her forty-year career, by which time she was no longer in her absolute vocal prime. Lehmann is sometimes now remembered as a consummate interpreter and musician, but one with a less than perfect vocal technique. Such judgments are incorrect: In her early recordings we can discover the ease and beauty of her vocal production, her voice fresh and youthful. Lehmann’s earliest records also give us a better idea of her extensive repertoire during the first half of her career. As noted in Dr. Jacobson’s essay, Lehmann sang a large range of roles during her years in Hamburg and Cologne. We are fortunate to get a glimpse of those portrayals through her acoustic recordings, made for Pathé, German Grammophon, and Odeon, between 1914 and 1926.
Lehmann’s first records were made for Pathé—just two sides recorded in 1914. In a hand-written letter from Lehmann to the Pathé administration in February 1915, she confirmed the extension of her contract until February 1916, also requesting payment of 400 Goldmarks. If Lehmann made any additional Pathé records, none were released. In fact, more than three years would pass before Lehmann would again make records. This lone Pathé disc is surely one of the most elusive of all records; in my forty years of collecting, I have never seen a copy offered for sale. We are grateful to Christian Zwarg for making a transfer of this great rarity available for this compilation.
With the outbreak of war in 1914 came a huge upheaval in the record industry in Germany. Relations between the German branch of the Gramophone Company Ltd. and the parent company in London ceased, but the German company continued to make records using the Gramophone Company name. During the first months of 1917, however, the company officially severed all connection to the Gramophone Company, reconstituting itself as the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. The new company began recording operations in September 1917 with Lotte Lehmann as one of their first artists. DGG also claimed the right to continue selling any Gramophone Company recordings made before the separation. In 1917, DGG began assigning new numbers to each disc, not only to their newly-produced discs, but also to any earlier Gramophone Company discs. This is why one finds Deutsche Grammophon pressings of records of artists such as Melba, Battistini, and Chaliapin with newly assigned numbers. To make matters more confusing, DGG continued using the old Gramophone Company catalog number system, printing these numbers on the record labels together with their new order numbers. Sometime in 1920, however, they stopped using the old catalog numbers, replacing them with new numbers that began with a letter prefix that denoted the city of location. Therefore, Lehmann’s later DGG discs all bear catalog numbers that begin with the letter B for Berlin. For this compilation, we have listed three numbers for each of Lehmann’s DGG recordings: first, the matrix number is given in parentheses; next is given the DGG order number followed by the company’s internal catalog number in brackets. The first three DGG sessions use the old Gramophone Company catalog numbers, while the fourth, fifth, and sixth sessions use the new DGG numbers.
Many of Lotte Lehmann’s DGG records were issued as single-faced discs, but by the early 1920s, all of her forty-six issued acoustic DGG records were coupled on double-faced discs with new order numbers. These later pressings are preferable because of their quieter background noise. For this compilation all transfers were made from such late pressings.
Lotte Lehmann’s acoustic Odeon discs were issued only in double-faced format, but pressings dating from the late 1920s sound far quieter than the earlier pressings from 1924–1926. We have made every effort to locate late pressings, but they are scarce and, in some cases, we had to use earlier, slightly noisier pressings. For the Odeon recordings especially, the choice of stylus was critical in bringing Lehmann’s voice into focus. In remastering all of the discs, obtrusive clicks, pops, and undesirable noises have been eliminated, and we have made an attempt to remove the harshness caused by horn resonance. The electric recordings chosen for the appendix are all available in beautiful, quiet copies with almost no restoration necessary. We hope that interest in this set will permit us to continue the Lotte Lehmann series with a second volume of her complete electric Odeon recordings.