These are photos from Lehmann’s New York farewell recital of 16 February 1951. You can also see photos and read about the recital in the LIFE magazine article. It was recorded and photographed because some of her friends and professional connections knew that this was to be the last recital in New York. Here is what Lehmann wrote to her good friend Elisabeth Schumann after this recital: “Yes, it was both a wonderful and a sad farewell…My middle range, which was always the best part of my voice, does not obey me any more. Sometimes it is quite clear and then suddenly it’s all husky…Even though the public was so faithful to me and turned a blind eye to all the imperfections, I myself cannot tolerate these imperfections. Every concert made me deeply miserable in these last years…It is really tragic that, just at the time when I understand singing so profoundly, the ability to do it the way I would like is taken from me.”
Here’s the Schubert An die Musik in which Lehmann broke down.
You can buy the complete New York Farewell Recital from VAI Music.