Lotte Lehmann: Comparing Recordings

On this page you can hear Lehmann and others of her time, as well as our own time. Sometimes it’s difficult to compare recordings when they use different recording techniques, but with a little experience you’ll be able to listen to more than just the sound. Notice the color of the voice the artists choose. Are they able to tell the story? Do they set the mood? It’s a lot more than just the voice’s basic sound. I’m trying to assemble text/translations at the bottom of the page.

The first comparison is Viorica Ursuleac singing Mein Elemer! from a 1942 Salzburg performance of Arabella by Richard Strauss. Clemens Krauss conducted the Wiener Staatsoper Orchestra. Though Lehmann didn’t sing the world premier, she did sing the first performance in Vienna a few days later. Ursuleac competed with Lehmann for roles and had a good reputation. She may have suffered from not recording well. See what you think. You can find the text and translation at the bottom of the page. Ursuleac 1942 Lehmann 1933

Now let’s hear a modern recording of Jessye Norman with Kurt Masur conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig in a 1983 stereo recording of Zueignung by Strauss. This will be followed by Lehmann’s 1930s radio broadcast of the same song. In this era only one microphone was used for both orchestra and singer. Lehmann’s is obviously monaural. See the text/translation below. Norman Lehmann

Here’s a chance to hear a contemporary recording by the under-rated Gundula Janowitz with Irwin Gage in Schubert’s Wiegenlied or Cradle Song. Lehmann’s performance is from a radio broadcast. I have included the text/translation below. Janowitz Lehmann

One of the most respected sopranos of Lehmann’s era was Elisabeth Rethberg, who, like Lehmann, sang both opera and Lieder. Though these two performances of Wolf’s Wenn du mein Liebster are from the same period of time, Rethberg’s is from an HMV 1934 studio recording with Coenraad V. Bos, piano and Lehmann’s is a live 1938 Town Hall radio broadcast with Paul Ulanowsky, piano.  Rethberg Lehmann

Let’s do Lehmann a service now and hear her in her prime in a 1935 studio recording of Schubert’s Im Abendrot or At Sunset with Ernö Balogh and compare that to her exact contemporary Elisabeth Schumann in a 1927 recording with Karl Alwin, piano. E. Schumann Lehmann

One of the amazing outbursts in all of opera is O Sachs, mein Freund! from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. Let’s hear the electric 1928 recording that Delia Reinhardt made with George Sébastian conducting and compare that with the acoustic 1925 session that Lehmann recorded with Hermann Weigert, the conductor. Reinhardt Lehmann

Now let’s compare Lehmann live (1938) and Lehmann in a recording studio (1941). This is Wolf’s Verborgenheit with Paul Ulanowsky. Though the live sound is poor, listen to the spontaneity that results from an audience’s feedback.  Studio Live Let’s sample two more recordings of the same song recorded in the same period. First, the highly respected baritone Herbert Janssen with Michael Raucheisen in 1935: Janssen Then you can hear the tenor Karl Erb with Bruno Seidler-Winkler. Erb

Lehmann was justly famous for her interpretation of Schubert’s Erlkönig, which you can hear with her own introductory remarks in a 1941 recording; the pianist is Paul Ulanowsky. It’s fascinating to hear what the bass Alexander Kipnis did with this same song recorded in 1936 with Gerald Moore, piano. Kipnis Lehmann

The singers sampled above, such as Kipnis, E. Schumann, Janssen and others were able to sing opera and Lieder with equal effectiveness. During Lehmann’s time the baritone Heinrich Schlusnus also succeeded in both fields. Let’s compare the 1933 recording that Schlusnus and Franz Rupp performed of Morgen by R. Strauss. Lehmann’s recording with Ulanowsky is from 1941. Schlusnus Lehmann

Lehmann sang mélodie as well as Lieder. In this case we’ll hear Duparc’s La vie antérieure to the words of Baudelaire. This comparison is more difficult because of the vast difference in recording techniques (1949 vs. 1971), two voice types (soprano & baritone), and at two extremes in their lives (Lehmann was 61 and Bernard Kruysen was 38). This is really a chance for you to put on your most sophisticated listening ears. Ulanowsky was Lehmann’s pianist and Noël Lee, Kruysen’s. Kruysen Lehmann

Lehmann passed on in 1976 while I was in Germany. When I returned to California I visited her companion Frances Holden in Santa Barbara. She allowed me to look through the piles of neglected 78rpm records where, among many other treasures, I discovered a test pressing of Schubert’s Nacht und Träume made in 1947 when Lehmann was already 59 years old. This is a demanding song in many ways: the need for lots of breath control, a feeling for line and phrase, a sustained mood and of course, accurate pitch. When RCA determined to release a new Lehmann CD, I was asked what it should contain. Among other songs I definitely wanted this Nacht und Träume. Hear how Hermann Prey and Elisabeth Schumann have interpreted it too. Lehmann Hermann Prey Elisabeth Schumann

One of the other great singers of the 20th Century was Kirsten Flagstad, who was really a helden-soprano (heroic soprano), whereas Lehmann was a lyric soprano. But they did sing each other’s roles. Let’s hear Du bist der Lenz from Die Walküre from a 1937 recording that Flagstad made with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. Lehmann’s famous recording of the same opera with Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic was made in 1935. Flagstad Lehmann

When I asked Lehmann about the rehearsal needed for this historic recording with Melchior, List etc., she replied casually, “Ach, we already knew it.”

If Flagstad deserved her lofty Wagnerian reputation, then Frida Leider was very close to that same pinnacle. Let’s hear Leider sing Wagner’s Schmerzen with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli in 1931. Lehmann recorded the same song in 1929 with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra conducted by Fridor Weissmann. Leider Lehmann (not yet the best sound available).

The intense rivalry between Lehmann and Maria Jeritza in the Vienna Opera went far beyond what we can imagine today. It was such deeply held opinion  and conviction by fans of each diva, that the sopranos exited the opera house by separate doors to prevent clashes. And there was no love lost between the two women. Jeritza was beautiful, and obvious in her stage work. Lehmann was plain, and more subtle. They had their admirers: both Puccini and Strauss found elements in each singer to praise and appreciate. You can judge for yourself, from Marietta’s song from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt with Jeritza singing the solo version in 1922 and Lehmann singing the duet (with Richard Tauber) in 1924. In both cases, these were acoustic recordings (no microphone); this accounts for the fact that the “s” sound didn’t record, as well as other troublesome consonants. Note that since all three of these artists knew the young composer personally, they felt completely at ease in altering the words.  Jeritza Lehmann

In every case it’s best to hear a recording on your hi-fi equipment; CDs sound a lot better than MP3s when making comparisons. These are just suggestions to get you going. Judith Sutcliffe reminded me of a radio program of Liebestod (also called Mild und Leise) comparisons that Jim Svejda did some years ago and I’ll do what I can to bring together those wonderful singers and add one of our own time. Go to the bottom of the page for the text/translation. Nina Stemme – Liebestod Maria Callas 1949 Mild und Leise Birgit Nilsson – Liebestod Kirsten Flagstad 1939 Liebestod Lotte Lehmann 1930 Mild und Leise

Arabella is wooed by three suitors: Elemer, Dominik and Lamoral, and she acknowledges that she may have to accept one of them, but she has fallen in love at first sight with a stranger she has barely passed in the street. Elemer arrives to invite Arabella for a sleigh ride. She accepts and goes off to change.
Mein Elemer! – Das hat so einen sonderbaren Klang…
Er mein – ich sein. Was ist denn das,
mir ist ja, wie wenn eine Angst mich überfiele –
und eine Sehnsucht ja, nach was denn auf der Welt?
Nach dem Matteo?
Weil er immer sagt,
er kann nicht leben ohne mich, und mich so anschaut
mit Augen wie ein Kind?
Nach dem Matteo sehnt sich nichts in mir!
Ich möchte meinen fremden Mann noch einmal sehn!
Ich möchte einmal seine Stimme hören! –
Dann wäre er wie die Anderen für mich. –
Wie sagt die Zdenka: dass wir warten müssen bis uns einer wählt,
und sonst sind wir verloren. Es ist Zeit
dass sie in Mädelkleider kommt, die Kleine,
sie hat so sonderbare Blicke. Wenn ich dann verheirat’t bin
muss sie zu mir. Verheirat’t mit dem Elemer?
Was rührt mich denn so an, als trät ich einem übers Grab?
Ist das der fremde Mann mit dem ich nie ein Wort geredet hab
zieht der im Dunkel so an mir?
Herr Gott, er ist ja sicher ein verheiratheter Mann
und ich soll und ich werd ihn nicht mehr wiedersehn!
Und heut ist Faschingdienstag und am Abend ist mein Ball
– Von dem bin ich die Königin – und dann…
My Elemer! – That has such a
strange sound…
He “mine” – I “his”. What is this then,
to me it’s just, as when a fear has
fallen over me-
and a longing, after what then
in all the world?
Longing for Matteo?
Because he always says,
he can’t live without me, and
looks at me
with the eyes of a child?
For Matteo there is no feeling in
me!
I’d like to see my strange man
again!
I’d like to hear his
voice! –
Then he’d be like the others
for me. –
What does Zdenka say: that we must
wait until one chooses us,
and otherwise we’re lost. It’s time
that she dressed as a girl, the
young one [Zdenka],
she has such a wonderful look. When I
am married
she must stay with me. Will I marry
Elemer?
What upsets me so, as though I
stepped on someone’s grave?
Is that the strange man with whom I
haven’t even spoken a word
that pulls at me in the darkness?
Dear God, he is probably a
married man
whom I shouldn’t and won’t ever
see again!
And today is Mardi Gras and
tonight is my ball
– In that I am the queen – and
then…
Though Zueignung or Dedication is well known, perhaps too well known, the orchestra version has an attraction.
Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle,
Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.Einst hielt ich, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.

Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
Heilig, heilig an’s Herz dir sank,
Habe Dank.

Yes, you know it, dear soul,
That I suffer far from you,
Love makes the heart sick,
Have thanks.Once I a freedom reveler,
Held high the amethyst beaker,
And you blessed the drink,
Have thanks.

And you exorcised the evils in it,
Until I, as I had never been before,
Blessed, blessed sank upon your heart,
Have thanks.

Wiegenlied or Cradle Song is so often associated with Brahms, it’s almost as if no other composer set such a song. Of course there are many and this one by Schubert uses the poetry of that famous name: anonymous.
Schlafe, holder, süßer Knabe,
Leise wiegt dich deiner Mutter Hand;
Sanfte Ruhe, milde Labe
Bringt dir schwebend dieses Wiegenband.Schlafe in dem süßen Grabe,
Noch beschützt dich deiner Mutter Arm,
Alle Wünsche, alle Habe
Faßt sie lieben, alle liebwarm.

Schlafe in der Flaumen Schoße,
Noch umtönt dich lauter
Liebeston,
Eine Lilie, eine Rose,
Nach dem Schlafe werd’ sie dir zum Lohn.

Sleep, dear sweet boy,
Softly your mother’s hand rocks you;
Caressing peace, gentle refreshment
Brings you floating this cradle band. [an old fashioned swaddling]Sleep in the sweet grave,
Always protected by your mother’s arm,
All the desires, all belongings
She holds loving, all love-warm.

Sleep in the down-soft lap,
Still nothing but love’s tone surrounds you,
A lily, a rose,
After you sleep, will be your
reward.

Wenn du, mein Liebster, steigst zum Himmel auf, or When you, my dearest, ascend to heaven,
originally Italian folk poetry. It was Paul Heyse’s German version that Hugo Wolf set.
Wenn du, mein Liebster, steigst zum Himmel auf,
Trag’ ich mein Herz dir in der Hand entgegen.
So liebevoll umarmst du mich darauf,
Dann woll’n wir uns dem Herrn zu Füßen legen.
Und sieht der Herrgott unsre Liebesschmerzen,
Macht er Ein Herz aus zwei verliebten Herzen,
Zu Einem Herzen fügt er zwei zusammen,
Im Paradies, umglänzt von Himmelsflammen.
When you, my dearest, ascend to heaven,
I will carry my heart to you in my hand.
So lovingly will you then embrace me,
Then we will lie at the Lord’s
feet.
And the Lord God, seeing our
love-sorrows,
Will make one heart out of two loving hearts,
He will add two together to
make one,
In Paradise, surrounded by heaven’s flames.
Mme. Lehmann called Im Abendrot (At Sunset) her favorite song when I interviewed her for her 85th birthday. Christopher Nupen used the Lehmann recording at the end of his movie on Schubert. Karl Lappe wrote the words.
O wie schön ist deine Welt,
Vater, wenn sie golden strahlet!
Wenn dein Glanz herniederfällt
Und den Staub mit Schimmer malet,
Wenn das Rot, das in der
Wolke blinkt,
In mein stilles Fenster sinkt!Könnt ich klagen, könnt ich
zagen?
Irre sein an dir
und mir?
Nein, ich will im Busen tragen
Deinen Himmel schon allhier.
Und dies Herz, eh’ es zusammenbricht,
Trinkt noch Glut und schlürft noch Licht.

O how beautiful is your world,
Father, when it shines golden!
When your brightness descends
And paints the dust with lustre,
When the red, which gleams in the clouds,
Sinks in through my quiet window!How could I complain, how could I be afraid?
How could there be error between You and me?
No, I will carry in my breast
Your Heaven already here.
And this heart, before it breaks,
Shall drink the glow and sip the
light.

Die Meistersinger is a long opera with a complicated story. The O Sachs! Mein Freund! section tells its own little story.
O Sachs! Mein Freund! Du teurer Mann!
Wie ich dir Edlem lohnen kann!
Was ohne deine Liebe,
was wär’ ich ohne dich,
ob je auch Kind
ich bliebe,
erwecktest du nicht mich?
Durch dich gewann ich,
was man preist,
durch dich ersann ich,
was ein Geist;
durch dich erwacht’,
durch dich nur dacht’
ich edel, frei und kühn;
du liessest mich erblühn!
Ja, lieber Meister, schilt mich nur:
ich war doch auf der rechten Spur.
Denn, hatte ich die Wahl,
nur dich erwählt’ ich mir;
du warest mein Gemahl,
den Preis reicht’ ich
nur dir.
Doch nun hat’s mich gewählt
zu nie gekannter Qual;
und werd’ ich heut’ vermählt,
so war’s ohn’ alle Wahl:
das war ein Müssen, war ein Zwang!
Euch selbst, mein Meister, wurde bang’.
O Sachs! My friend!
Dear man!
How can I reward you, noble man?
What would I be without your love,
without you?
Wouldn’t I have remained always a child
if you had not awoken me?
Through you I have won
what people prize,
through you I learnt
the workings of the spirit;
by you awoken,
only through you did I think
nobly, freely, and boldly;
you made me bloom!
Yes, dear Master, scold me if you will;
but I was on the right path,
for, if I had the choice,
I would choose none but you;
you would have been my husband,
I would have given the prize to none but you.
But now I am chosen
for unknown torment,
and if I am married today,
then I had no choice:
that was necessity, compulsion!
You yourself, my Master, were dismayed.
Verborgenheit (Secrecy or Seclusion) is one of Wolf’s best loved songs. This was written during one of his intense compositional efforts to one poet or another. In this case the poet was Mörike.
Laß, o Welt, o laß mich sein!
Locket nicht mit Liebesgaben,
Laßt dies Herz alleine haben
Seine Wonne, seine Pein!Was ich traure, weiß ich nicht,
Es ist unbekanntes Wehe;
Immerdar durch Tränen sehe
Ich der Sonne liebes Licht.

Oft bin ich mir kaum bewußt,
Und die helle Freude zücket
Durch die Schwere,
so mich drücket,
Wonniglich in meiner Brust.

Laß, o Welt, o laß mich sein!
Locket nicht mit Liebesgaben,
Laßt dies Herz alleine haben
Seine Wonne, seine Pein!

Oh, world, let me be!
Don’t entice with love’s-gifts,
Let this heart alone have
Its bliss, its pain!What I mourn, I know not.
It is unknown misery;
Always through tears I see
The sun’s dear light.

Often, I am scarcely conscious
And the bright joy quivers
Through the heaviness
weighing me down,
Delightfully in my breast.

Oh, world, let me be!
Don’t entice not with gifts of love.
Let this heart in solitude have
Your bliss, your pain!

Erlkönig is often spoofed, but this spooky story by Goethe, has held its own fascination since the time the 17 year old Schubert wrote it in 1804.
Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn
warm.”Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?” —
“Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?” —
“Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.”

“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel’ ich mit dir;
Manch’ bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden
Gewand.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?”
“Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt
der Wind.”

“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehen?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern
Ort?”
“Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden
so grau.”

“Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.”
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!”

Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende
Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Müh’
und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

Who rides, so late, through night and wind?
It is the father with his child.
He has the boy well in his arm
He holds him safely, he keeps him warm.”My son, why do you hide your face so anxiously?”
“Father, do you not see the Erl king?
The Erl king with crown and
tail?”
“My son, it’s a wisp of fog.”

“You dear child, come, go with me!
Very lovely games I’ll play with you;
Many colourful flowers are on the shore,
My mother has many golden
robes.”

“My father, my father, and don’t you hear
What Erl king quietly promises me?”
“Be calm, stay calm, my child;
The wind is rustling through withered leaves.”

“Do you want to come with me, pretty boy?
My daughters shall wait on you
finely;
My daughters will lead the nightly dance,
And rock and dance and sing you to sleep.”

“My father, my father, and don’t you see there
Erl king’s daughters in the gloomy place?”
“My son, my son, I see it
clearly:
There shimmer the old willows so grey.”

“I love you, your beautiful form entices me;
And if you’re not willing, then I need force.”
“My father, my father, he’s grabbing me now!
Erl king has done me some harm!”

It horrifies the father; he swiftly rides on,
He holds the moaning child in his arms,
Reaches the farm with trouble and hardship;
In his arms, the child was dead.

Morgen (Tomorrow) is one of the most often performed songs of Richard Strauss. Whether because of the words of John Henry Mackay, or the effect of the slow melody with a long introduction, is up to you to decide.
Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen,
und auf dem Wege, den ich gehen werde,
wird uns, die Glücklichen, sie wieder einen
inmitten dieser sonnenatmenden Erde…Und zu dem Strand, dem weiten, wogenblauen,
werden wir still und langsam niedersteigen,
stumm werden wir uns in die Augen schauen,
und auf uns sinkt des Glückes stummes Schweigen…

And tomorrow the sun will shine again,
and on the path,
I will take,
it will unite us again,
we happy ones,
upon this sun-breathing
earth…And to the shore, the wide shore with blue waves,
we will descend quietly
and slowly;
we will look mutely into each other’s eyes
and the silence of happiness will settle upon us.

If I may quote Graham Johnson from his French Song Companion, “La vie antérieure…a perfect complicity between composer and poem…we find epic grandeur totally without bombast, and a sense of perfect truth in the response to the poet’s images.” There is much more on this song and many others in his book, that makes for fascinating reading.
J’ai longtemps habité sous de vastes portiques
Que les soleils marins teignaient de mille feux,
Et que leurs grands piliers, droits et majestueux,
Rendaient pareils, le soir, aux grottes basaltiques.Les houles, en roulant les images des cieux,
Mêlaient d’une façon solennelle et mystique
Les tout puissants accords de leur riche musique
Aux couleurs du couchant reflété par mes yeux…

C’est là, c’est là que j’ai vécu dans les voluptés calmes
Au milieu de l’azur, des vagues, des splendeurs,
Et des esclaves nus tout imprégnés d’odeurs

Qui me rafraîchissaient le front avec des palmes,
Et dont l’unique soin était d’approfondir
Le secret douloureux qui me faisait languir.

Long I had lived beneath immense colonnades
Dyed with a thousand fires by ocean suns,
And whose great columns, erect and majestic,
Seemed, at night, just like basalt grottoes.The rolling waves tossing the mirrored skies
Blended in a solemn and
mystic way
The all-powerful chords of their rich music
Colored like the sunset reflected in my eyes

It is there, there that I lived in tranquil luxury
In the midst of the blue, the waves and the wonders,
And the nude slaves drenched with fragrance

Who refreshed my brow with palm leaves,
And whose sole care was
to fathom
the painful secret that made me languish.

Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams) must be one of the most evocative of Schubert’s Lieder. Listen for the change of key in the middle of the song, which seems to alter the whole feeling.

 

 

Heil’ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder;
Nieder wallen auch die Träume
Wie dein Mondlicht durch die Räume,
Durch der Menschen stille Brust.
Die belauschen sie mit Lust;
Rufen, wenn der Tag erwacht:
Kehre wieder, heil’ge Nacht!
Holde Träume, kehret wieder!

 

Holy night, you sink down;
Dreams, too, drift down
Like your moonlight through space,
Through the quiet hearts of men;
They listen with delight
Calling out when day awakens:
Return, holy night!
Fair dreams, return!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Du bist der Lenz (You are Spring) is one of the few arias in Die Walküre and as such many sopranos sing it, even on recital programs. The story is too long to give even a general idea, so follow the words and they will tell you enough for this aria’s meaning.
Du bist der Lenz, nach dem ich verlangte
in frostigen Winters Frist.
Dich grüßte mein Herz mit heiligem Grau’n,
als dein Blick zuerst mir erblühte.
Fremdes nur sah ich von je,
freudlos war mir das Nahe.
Als hätt’ ich nie es gekannt, war, was immer mir kam.
Doch dich kannt’ ich deutlich und klar:
als mein Auge dich sah,
warst du mein Eigen;
was im Busen ich barg, was ich bin,
hell wie der Tag taucht’ es mir auf,
o wie tönender Schall schlug’s an mein Ohr,
als in frostig öder Fremde
zuerst ich den Freund ersah.
You are the Spring for which I
longed
in the frosty winter season.
My heart greeted you with holy
terror
when your first glance set me on fire.
I had only ever seen strangers;
my surroundings were friendless.
As if I had never known,
that was everything that came my way.
But I recognized you plain and clear;
when my eyes saw you,
you were mine;
what I hid in my heart, what I am,
bright as day it came to me,
like a resounding echo it fell upon my
ear,
when cold, lonely and estranged
I first saw my friend.
Here’s what James Leonard has to say about Schmerzen, or Pains. “[In 1848] Wagner fled to Zurich where…he met Otto Wesendonck in 1852…Wesendonck had more to offer than merely his wallet: he had a guest house and a beautiful wife. It was just what Wagner needed. He [Wagner] and his wife moved in in 1856 and he started writing the libretto for…Tristan und Isolde….Wagner began composing what became the Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck in November 1857. The third song he wrote was Schmerzen… A morbidly erotic song that joins love and death in passionate embrace, Wagner sets Mathilde’s poem with highly charged chromatic music that starts with a cry of pain and ends with the bliss of ecstasy…”
Sonne, weinest jeden Abend
Dir die schönen Augen rot,
Wenn im Meeresspiegel badend
Dich erreicht der frühe Tod;Doch erstehst in alter Pracht,
Glorie der düstren Welt,
Du am Morgen neu erwacht,
Wie ein stolzer Siegesheld!

Ach, wie sollte ich da klagen,
Wie, mein Herz, so schwer dich sehn,
Muß die Sonne selbst verzagen,
Muß die Sonne untergehn?

Und gebieret Tod nur Leben,
Geben Schmerzen Wonne nur:
O wie dank ich, daß gegeben
Solche Schmerzen mir Natur!

Sun, you weep each evening
Your beautiful eyes red,
When, bathing in the ocean’s mirror
You are seized by early death.Yet you rise in all your old splendor,
Glory of the gloomy world,
Newly awakened in the morning
Like a proud, victorious hero!

Ah, why should I then complain,
Why, my heart, are you so heavy,
If the sun itself must despair,
If the sun must set?

And if Death gives rise only to Life,
And pain gives way only to bliss:
O how I thank, that
Nature gives me such pain!

Glück, das mir verblieb, Marietta’s aria from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, was the big hit from the gifted youngster’s opera (he was actually 23 when he wrote it).
Glück, das mir verblieb,
rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb.
Abend sinkt im Hag
bist mir Licht und Tag.
Bange pochet Herz an Herz
Hoffnung schwingt sich himmelwärts.[Wie wahr, ein traurig Lied.]
Das Lied vom treuen Lieb,
das sterben muss.

[Ich kenne das Lied.
Ich hört es oft in jungen,
in schöneren Tagen.
Es hat noch eine Strophe—
weiß ich sie noch?]

[Naht auch Sorge trüb,
rück zu mir, mein treues Lieb.]
Neig dein blaß Gesicht
Sterben trennt uns nicht.
Mußt du einmal von mir gehn,
glaub, es gibt ein Auferstehn.

Joy, that remains for me,
come to me, my true love.
Night sinks in the grove
you are my light and day.
Anxiously beats heart on heart
Hope itself soars heavenward.How true, a sad song.
The song of true love,
that must die.

I know the song.
I heard it often in younger,
in better days.
It has yet another verse–
Do I know it still?

Dark sorrow draws near,
come to me, my true love.
Lean to me your pale face
Death will not separate us.
If you must leave me one day,
believe, there is an afterlife
[literally, a resurrection].

Isolde’s Liebestod (Love-death) from Tristan und Isolde is her closing apostrophe (also the last thing sung in the opera) wherein, kneeling by the fallen body of her dead lover, she, in ecstatic transport, sees him alive, his figure in splendor shining before her.
Mild und leise
wie er lächelt,
wie das Auge
hold er öffnet
–seht ihr’s, Freunde?
Seht ihr’s nicht?
Immer lichter
wie er leuchtet,
stern-umstrahlt
hoch sich hebt?
Seht ihr’s nicht?ertrinken,
versinken, –
unbewusst, –
höchste Lust!

Softly and gently
how he smiles,
how his eyes
charmingly open
–do you see, friends?
do you not see?
how he shines
ever brighter.
Star-haloed
rising higher
Do you not see?to drown,
to founder –
unconscious –
utmost rapture!