Preface and Index can be found below. Introduction and Chapters 1-3 Chapters 4-5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20

Beaumont Glass and his wife moved into Lehmann’s old rooms in 1987 in order to write a biography on her. He had been her assistant at the Music Academy of the West, and his wife had studied with Lehmann. Francis Holden gave them complete access to everything remaining in “Orplid,” Lehmann and Holden’s home since 1939. There were letters, recordings, and Holden’s memories to draw upon. When the work was complete, they searched in vain for a publisher. Publishers know that here’s not much money to be made from a biography of a singer of the past. Through the connections of Judith Sutcliffe, a publishing house and willing publisher were located right there in Santa Barbara. It was arranged that Holden would subsidize the cost of the printing.

When the actual editing process began, it was discovered that the publisher would only offer such a book if it contained no more than 350 pages. Beau’s manuscript, along with the Index, Notes, and my discography came to cover many more pages than that. I offered to condense the discography wherever possible, but that didn’t help enough. The publisher suggested a smaller font for the discography, to which I agreed. But that still didn’t come close to the page limit. Roger Levenson and Judith Sutcliffe were brought in to shorten Beau’s text. That worked. Though Beau was upset at what he considered the loss of much important material, he agreed and the book was ready for the 1988 Lotte Lehmann Centennial.

Years later, when I was in touch with Beau he told me how he imagined adding back the removed portions and up-dating the text, as new information had been discovered. We tried to find a willing publisher, but since his already published book was still available, mostly used at Ebay, no company was interested. Nevertheless, Beau and I went through the whole book, adding what he thought was important, making corrections, and up-dating. It is this expanded volume that I now offer. We agreed to call the “new” biography: Lotte Lehmann: A Documentary Biography by Beaumont Glass. His note read:

This is a revised and extensively expanded version of the biography published by Capra Press, Santa Barbara, in 1988 to celebrate the centennial of Lotte Lehmann. Much material that was excluded from that book, for various reasons, has now been restored, and a vast amount of new material has come to light since that first version was written.

A word about “The Authorized Biography” in the title. Alan Jefferson had written his own Lehmann biography: Lotte Lehmann 1888-1976 A Centenary Biography by Alan Jefferson. Frances Holden found errors and other objectionable issues with the book. She had not allowed Jefferson access to the Lehmann Archives at UCSB, and had let it be known to Lehmann’s former students, that they should not cooperate with him. Obviously, Holden had overseen the writing of Beau’s book and so that word “authorized” appears in the title.

In the following version of Beau’s Lehmann biography, you’ll find that the changes and additions appear in bold. Here’s what he wrote as the Foreword to the original volume:

A Personal Note

For two and a half years I was Lotte Lehmann’s assistant at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. I accompanied master classes in lieder and opera, coached students, and occasionally assisted with staging. During those years Mme. Lehmann presented complete productions of Der Rosenkavalier and Fidelio. I was privileged to observe how she built up every role, detail by illuminating detail. I cherish my Rosenkavalier score, scribbled full of her stage directions and comments.

In the summer of 1961 I was Mme. Lehmann’s assistant stage director for Fidelio, her last production. She asked me to block and direct the ensemble scenes so that she could save her energy for the individual characterizations and the crucially important dialogue.

I am old enough, and lucky enough, to have seen Lehmann’s Marschallin several times at the Metropolitan Opera and to have heard a number of her lieder recitals. Those were unforgettable experiences.

During my years in Europe with the Zurich Opera, I had a chance to visit Mme. Lehmann nearly every summer in Salzburg, Vienna, Schrunz, or Bad Gastein. She often came to Switzerland as well.

I saw her for the last time in Santa Barbara, a year before she died, bent and barely able to walk with two canes, but still a fascinating woman.

More than any other artist I ever knew, she incorporated a genius for interpretation, uniquely combined with the rare ability to articulate her insights and to pass them on to others.

This book is my attempt to offer my thanks to Lotte Lehmann for the precious gifts she has given to me and to so many. Its form was determined by the special nature of the documents available. I wished wherever feasible to preserve the actual words of Lotte Lehmann and of those who heard her in her major roles and in recital at various stages of her career. I am the translator of all the materials in German, French, and Italian that have not already been published in English. In the case of Lehmann’s early letters I might better say I am the cryptographer, since they were written in a now-obsolete form of German script and, especially in her letters to her brother, dashed off in a nearly indecipherable scrawl. Here typewritten letters, bristling with numerous corrections scribbled in ink, are often almost as hard to read as her earlier German script. The orthography and syntax of her later letters in English, except where otherwise noted, have occasionally been corrected; but basically a considerable portion of this biography is Lotte Lehmann speaking in her own words and in her own characteristic way.

This book would not have been possible without the indispensable cooperation of Dr. Frances Holden, Lotte Lehmann’s longtime companion, who graciously invited my wife and me to live with her for five months, giving us what had been Lotte’s own apartment. We were surrounded by the mementos of a great career and of a most productive friendship. Everywhere there were samples of Lehmann’s prolific creativity: her felt pictures, her paintings, her glass mosaics, her ceramics. Her opera scores, her volumes of lieder were there. Hundreds of photos. A nearly complete collection of her records. The parrot and the dog that survived her. Outside our window the Pacific, framed by hibiscus and jacaranda. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and a pair of amorous owls. No would-be author could ask for a more inspiring setting in which to write a book about Lotte Lehmann.

Frances was indefatigable in tracking down letters, old date books, all sorts of random bits of information that might be usable. Her enormous library alone had the answer somewhere to almost any conceivable question.

Much as she hated speaking into a tape recorder, she gamely submitted when the mood was right. Her recorded reminiscences, though punctuated by screams from Suzy, the parrot, are fascinating and suggest a gift for total recall.

The Lotte Lehmann Archives at the University of California, Santa Barbara, contain thousands of letters to and from Lehmann, along with telegrams, manuscripts, photos, press books, scrapbooks, and paintings, to which I was given unlimited access through the courtesy of Dr. Joseph A. Boissé, University Librarian, and Christian Brun, Head of the Special Collections Department.

Hertha Schuch of Vienna and Gary Hickling of Hawaii have been particularly helpful in sending me interesting and hard-to-find material on Lotte Lehmann. Mr. Hickling has compiled the definitive Lehmann discography, a mammoth, complicated task.

I wish to thank Judy Sutcliffe for finding me a publisher, for setting the type, and for loaning me a car; Dr. Daniel C. Jacobson for teaching me how to use a computer; Charles Edward Glass, my brother, for lending me his printer; and my wife for helping me read through mountains of letters and clippings.

I would like to express my gratitude to Margaret Specht, who took the trouble to read my first draft, and to Roger Levenson for his editing and proofreading.

Special thanks also to Risë Stevens and Rose Bampton for their graciousness in granting me interviews.

Table of Contents


(Why Lotte Lehmann? Who was she?)

I: A Drop of Theater Blood

(Childhood.  Small town beginnings, early memories, family, school)

II: A Door to Wonderland

(Berlin.  First love.  Voice discovered by a neighbor.  Dismissal from Etelka Gerster Singing School as untalented)

III: A Pair of Miracles

(Help from Wagner’s first Eva and Baron Putlitz.  Offer from Bucharest, collapse of the enterprise)

IV: A Chambermaid in Valhalla

(First engagement, Hamburg Municipal Opera.  First impressions of theatrical life, first solo roles.  Otto Klemperer)

V: Like Flying in a Dream

(The decisive success: Elsa in Lohengrin, thanks to Klemperer’s faith in her.  At last: leading roles, worshipful fans.  Enrico Caruso)

VI: Raining Gold

(Guest performances in Cologne, London, Zoppot, Vienna.  World War I.  First Sieglinde, Eva, Elisabeth.  The Vienna Opera claque)

VII:  That Something Extra

(Vienna.  Discovery by Richard Strauss.  Understudy becomes star.  Rivalry with Maria Jeritza)

VIII: Role Screams for Lehmann

(Work with Strauss at his home in Garmisch.  Premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten.  Strauss letters.  Puccini letters)

IX: She Was His Birthday Present

(South America, London.  First Marschallin in Rosenkavalier.  Premiere of Intermezzo.  Love, obstacles, scandal, marriage)

X: The Next Great Landmark

(International career established.  Salzburg Festivals, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Stockholm.  First Fidelio)

XI: Wild Indians and Other Dangers

(Lieder recitals.  North America at last.  Chicago Opera)

XII: One Does See the Garden

XIII: The Lioness Was Less Dangerous

(Finally the Metropolitan Opera.  Arturo Toscanini.  Confrontation with Hermann Göring)

XIV: Like a Flow of Lava

(The advent of Kirsten Flagstad.  Fidelio with Toscanini at Salzburg.  A novel, an autobiography)

XV: Above All a Woman

(Stepchildren.  Trip around the world.  First Australian tour.  The Anschluss)

XVI: Nothing but an Earthquake

(Collapse at Covent Garden.  Risë Stevens.  Husband’s death.  Second Australian tour)

XVII: The Mountains Were on Fire

(Mountain home burns down.  Painting, teaching.  World War II.  Rose Bampton, Jeanette MacDonald.  Last opera performances)

XVIII: A Look into the Mirror

(Second career: as lieder singer.  Books on interpretation.  Hollywood.  Farewell recitals)

XIX: She Made the Moon Rise

(The Music Academy of the West, master classes, students.  Lehmann as teacher)

XX: Exactly like a Queen

(Return to Vienna.  Bruno Walter correspondence.  Last years)