Cher Public

Seligstes Weib!

On this day in 1934 soprano Lotte Lehmann made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sieglinde. 

Hubbard Hutchinson in The New York Times wrote:

Mme. Lehmann’s voice is not immense in volume as operatic voices go, yet she used it so beautifully that it seemed far larger than it is. Her pianissimo, of exquisite quality, carried to the farthest corner of the house; her fortissimi pierced without difficulty the climaxes of the orchestra. At the beginning of the scene with Siegmund, and indeed well into the middle of Act I, it was not a warm voice and there were moments of slight departure from pitch, and apparently slight forcing at the top, as in the final apostrophe to Siegmund.

But if her first act was of a sort to startle the critical faculty into sharp attendance and admiration, her performance in the second had an electrifying quality that swept that faculty away for once and made even the guarded listener a breathless participant in the emotions of the anguished Sieglinde.

  • Camille

    “her performance in the second had an electrifying quality that swept that faculty away for once and made even the guarded listener a breathless participant in the emotions of the anguished Sieglinde.”

    Of all the qualities ascribed to Lottchen in the paragraphs above, and in the reams of verbiage written on and about her over the years, the one word I’ve emboldened above *electrifying* is probably that which sums her up in a nutshell most succinctly.

    As I never actually saw her perform, other than in those absolutely remarkable youtube impressions of her master class Marschallin), but — I did actually see her once, as she was being guided grandly into the performance hall of the Music Academy of the West in a wheelchair at the age of, what was she then? Eighty something? That woman had more *electricity* in and about her person even at that age and in a wheelchair than the majority of *stars* I have seen in the operatic heavens since. It was absof00kingly stupefying, that sharp electric clear blue eye of hers crackling while her gaze took in everyone and everything. That was once, fifty years ago, and I still remember her and that moment. That’s a *STAR*, and in her instance, a really great interpretative artist.

    • Dan Patterson

      Does anyone know whatever happened to the “Lehmann Ring” that she gave to Leonie Rysanek?

      • CKurwenal

        I believe it went to Behrens. I used to know what happened to it next but I’m afraid I can’t recall now!

        • PCally

          Rysanek left it to Behrens. When Behrens died it was given to Meier

          • Dan Patterson

            Thanks for the info. All were thrilling artists, no question. (Lehmann is the only one I associate with lieder, though.) I never saw Lehmann, but know her from her records and her books. I saw Rysanek and Behrens a good bit. Waltrud Meier I only saw live once, as Kundry, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. So who gets it next, I wonder?

  • WindyCityOperaman
    • Armerjacquino

      Sounds really interesting, I’d love to see it.

  • southerndoc1

    Outstanding collection of Lehmann’s acoustic recordings came out on 4 discs from Marston recently. The voice was unbelievably beautiful at that stage and she just radiates feminine sexuality in everything she sings.