Beaumont Glass and his wife moved into Lehmann’s old house in 1987 in order to write her biography. 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.
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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, Lotte Lehmann: A Life In Opera & Song, The Authorized Biography, 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 original title. Alan Jefferson had written his own Lehmann biography: Lotte Lehmann 1888-1976 A Centenary Biography. 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” appeared in the title.
In the following version of Beau’s Lehmann biography, bolded text is either reinstated, updated, or new text written by Glass that did not appear in the original 1988 publication. As a bonus, and to offer more background on Beaumont Glass, you may listen to an interview with Christine Steyer, whom he coached in his Maine home while already suffering the disease that would kill him three years later. There are many references to Lehmann. This was recorded in 2012.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why Lotte Lehmann? Who was she?
Childhood. Small town beginnings, early memories, family, school.
Berlin. First love. Voice discovered by a neighbor. Dismissal from Etelka Gerster Singing School as untalented.
Help from Wagner’s first Eva and Baron Putlitz. Offer from Bucharest, collapse of the enterprise.
First engagement, Hamburg Municipal Opera. First impressions of theatrical life, first solo roles. Otto Klemperer.
The decisive success: Elsa in Lohengrin, thanks to Klemperer’s faith in her. At last: leading roles, worshipful fans. Enrico Caruso.
Guest performances in Cologne, London, Zoppot, Vienna. World War I. First Sieglinde, Eva, Elisabeth. The Vienna Opera claque.
Vienna. Discovery by Richard Strauss. Understudy becomes star. Rivalry with Maria Jeritza.
Work with Strauss at his home in Garmisch. Premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Strauss letters. Puccini letters.
South America, London. First Marschallin in Rosenkavalier. Premiere of Intermezzo. Love, obstacles, scandal, marriage.
International career established. Salzburg Festivals, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Stockholm. First Fidelio.
Lieder recitals. North America at last. Chicago Opera.
Finally the Metropolitan Opera. Arturo Toscanini. Confrontation with Hermann Göring.
The advent of Kirsten Flagstad. Fidelio with Toscanini at Salzburg. A novel, an autobiography.
Stepchildren. Trip around the world. First Australian tour. The Anschluss.
Collapse at Covent Garden. Risë Stevens. Husband’s death. Second Australian tour.
Mountain home burns down. Painting, teaching. World War II. Rose Bampton, Jeanette MacDonald. Last opera performances.
Second career: as lieder singer. Books on interpretation. Hollywood. Farewell recitals.
The Music Academy of the West, master classes, students. Lehmann as teacher.
Return to Vienna. Bruno Walter correspondence. Last years.