The young Lotte Lehmann
|Title||The young Lotte Lehmann|
|Genre||Classical > Choro|
|Copyright||© Preiser Records|
Shelley's 'To a skylark' might have been dedicated to Lotte Lehmann, so evocatively does the poem recall the phenomenon of her voice. Indeed the enchantment of this unique voice, a velvety, dark-hued, charismatic 1soprano had an almost indescribable effect. The timbre and the rare quality of this youthful dramatic voice to which, by dint of hard work, an upper extention of three tones had been added, permeated the whole tonal range with the greatest intensity and seemed thus virtually predestined for Romantic Opera, all the more so as Lotte Lehmann was not only a fine looking woman and a very talented actress but also had pellucid diction. Over and above these gifts, Lotte Lehmann also had a special ability to transport the poetic qualities of the text into her singing. When she apostrophized spring one could hear, as it were, the scent of bursting buds; when she sang about a rose, the fragrance became apparent. The singer's musical empathy was so great that the listener became totally involved in the poetic mood. Lotte Lehmann was born on 27th February 1888 in Perleburg, a small town near Berlin. She originally intended to become a teacher but soon her artistic talent came to the fore. Initial vocal tuition with the famous coach Etelka Gerster was an unmitigated disaster and it was not until she started tuition with Mathilde Mallinger, the first Eva in "Mastersingers", that a professional career could be envisaged. Her first engagement was at the Hamburg State Opera where she initially sang minor roles. Her breakthrough came when Otto Klemperer engaged her to sing Eisa in "Lohengrin". In a kind of trance she sang and acted what was to become perhaps her best role. From then on there was no looking back. When Caruso appeared as a guest at the Hamburg Opera, he, too, was enchanted by her voice and wanted her to partner him. The director of the Vienna Court Opera, Hans Gregor, who originally attended a performance of "Carmen" because of the tenor and thus heard her as Micaela, immediately engaged her to sing in Vienna. Her first Manon opposite Alfred Piccaver attracted the attention of the critics and after the world premiere of the original version of ''Ariadne auf Naxos", in which she sang the composer at the express command of Richard Strauss, all Vienna became familiar with the name Lotte Lehmann. After a few years the young soprano had sufficiently consolidated her position to be asked to create the Dyer's wife in the world premiere of "Frau ohne Schatten". It would take more space than available to list all the roles in which she was admired. Brief mention must, however, be made of her Manon and Charlotte, Lisa in "Pique Dame" or later Tatjana in "Bugen Onegin". Desdemona was the only Verdi role she sang, but it proved to be one of her most successful assumptions. She felt equally at home singing Puccini, no matter whether she depicted the bitter fate of Manon Lescaut, Butterfly, Suor Angelica or Mimi. In fact the latter role actually moved the composer himself to years. Mention must also be made of her Madeleine in "Andre Chenier" and her Heliane in "Das Wunder der Heliane". A special panegyric would have to be written about her portrayals "of Richard Strauss roles. The role of the Komponist and later Ariadne in "Ariadne auf Naxos", the Dyer's wife in "Frau ohne Schatten" and the eponymous heroine in "Arabella" - apart especially written for her - fulfilled all conceivable requirements; Lotte Lehmann became world-famous for her incomparable Marschallin in "Rosenkavalier", after she had initially sung Sophie and later Octavian. Her Leonore in "Fidelio" on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of Beethoven's death also set new standards. Toscanini admired her especially in this role. In humors roles like Frau Fluth in "Merry Wives of Windsor", Catharine in "Taming of the Shrew" and especially Christine in "Intermezzo" in which she subtly parodied the less endearing foibles of Richard Strauss' wife Pauline, she also displayed the full range of her charm. Nature denied her the role of Isolde - her favorite role. Lotte Lehmann studied the part for years but in wise appreciation of her vocal abilities she ultimately declined to sing the role on stage. In lieu, as it were, we are fortunate to have a rich repertoire of lieder. With the finest nuances she conveyed a genre that differs vocally so greatly from stage works. Voice, expression and composition fused to become a unique unity. In 1937 Lotte Lehmann bade a final farewell to Vienna. She continued to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, terminating her singing career in 1951 with a number of Lieder recitals. Subsequently she lived in Santa Barbara in California. There she taught and continued to devote herself to her various artistic occupations. Fortunately, Lotte Lehmann's art has been preserved to posterity and it will continue to garner postumous fame for her and afford delight to us.