Singers on Singing :
Lotte Lehmann

Singers on Singing: Lotte Lehmann

Photo: Lotte Lehmann as the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier

The soprano Lotte Lehmann, who was born in Germany in 1888 and died in the United States in 1976, was profoundly admired by some of the greatest composers and performers of her day. Richard Strauss said “Her singing moved the stars,” Giacomo Puccini said she was his favourite Suor Angelica, and Arturo Toscanini called her “The greatest artist in the world.” As a German Lieder singer, she created a new awareness of the potential theatrical and dramatic interpretation of the genre. As an opera singer, she wedded singing, acting and verbal expression in a radically integrated way that pre-empted developing new performing trends after the Second World War. And as a teacher and advisor she exerted a very powerful and far reaching influence on many young singers who were to become some of the most admired and celebrated performers of their day.

Some of these artists were among the contributors who took part in this documentary that was aired in 2006 as a memorial at the 30th anniversary of Lotte Lehmann’s death. The feature was produced in collaboration with the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, which generously underwrote the documentary and supplied the invaluable recordings of Lotte Lehmann performing, speaking and teaching in master-classes. Recalling the great soprano in WFMT Radio Network interviews specially made for the programme are mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry, the late biographer Beaumont Glass, composer and former President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation Daron Hagen, baritone Thomas Hampson, founder and former President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation Gary Hickling, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, pianist and accompanist Graham Johnson, mezzo-soprano Valerie Komar, soprano Carol Neblett, film director Christopher Nupen, and musicologist and opera and song historian Charles Osborne.

–Jon Tolansky

Listen to the documentary immediately below (length: approx. 1 hour, 58 min.)

The recordings included in this feature are made available courtesy of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation. Many of them are copies of original out-of-print 78 rpm discs and quite some are private recordings of live performances owned by the Lotte Lehmann Foundation. None were or are currently available as commercial CDs (there may be some CD reissues of some materials, but the recordings supplied were dubbed from original 78 discs and, in the case of live performances and master-classes, original acetate discs). All this material is no longer under copyright.

The music sung by Lotte Lehmann is as follows:

  • “Dich teure halle” from Tannhäuser (Wagner)
  • “Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht” (Brahms)
  • “Oh Sachs, mein Freund” from Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg (Wagner)
  • “Mein Elemer” from Arabella (Richard Strauss)
  • “Hinweg” from Die Walküre (Wagner)
  • Marschallin’s Monologue from Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)
  • Entrance of Cio-Cio San from Madam Butterfly (Puccini)
  • “Adieu, notre petite table” from Manon (Massenet)
  • “Komm O Hoffnung” from Fidelio (Beethoven)
  • “Ich grolle nicht” from Dichterliebe (Schumann)
  • “Die liebende Schreibt” (Mendelssohn)
  • “Erlkönig” (Schubert)
  • “Mut” from Winterreise (Schubert)
  • “Der Leiermann” from Winterreise (Schubert)
  • “Aufträge” (Schumann)
  • “An die Musik” (Schubert)
  • “Violon” (Poulenc, sung by Valerie Komar – Lehmann Cybersing Prize Winner)
  • “Im Abendroth” (Schubert)

Related Resources


Singers on Singing: The Performer’s Perspective


Singers on Singing: Singing Strauss


Singers on Singing :
Marilyn Horne


Singers on Singing :
Thomas Hampson

Part of

Singers on Singing: Great Artists in Conversation

Related Websites

Lotte Lehmann Foundation

The Lotte Lehmann Foundation supports emerging singers and composers of vocal music by (1.) administering a bi-annual vocal performance competition, (2.) funding the bi-annual Lotte Lehmann Foundation-ASCAP Art Song Composition Competition, and (3.) producing master classes for singers.

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Lotte Lehmann talks with Studs Terkel

The German soprano discusses her career and the role she is most famous for – The Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. She also talks about teaching (she taught at Northwestern University) and why she retired when she did. The interview is from WFMT on April 14, 1960.

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Lotte Lehmann Akademie

The Lotte Lehmann Academy is an intimate and intensive summer program in Perleberg, Germany for emerging opera singers.

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Lotte Lehmann League

A wealth of resources on Lotte Lehmann's life and legacy

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