This is a translation of Lehmann’s typewritten article on Puccini found in Lehmann auf Deutsch.
Great excitement in the Vienna Opera: Puccini came to the last rehearsals of his three one-act operas “Soeur Angelica”, “Il Tabarro” and “Gianni Schicci.”
As always, he was accompanied by his old friend Riccardo Schnabel-Rossi. Puccini was not satisfied with the cast of the female role in “Il Tabarro” – and impatient and in a bad mood. He said to Riccardo, “Please go to the Angelica rehearsal and hear who is singing this role. Probably someone impossible, I don’t know the name of Lehmann…” Riccardo told me that he had just been at my piano rehearsal for five minutes, when he quickly returned to Puccini and exclaimed: “She’s great!” “Oh you with your fondness for everything that sings in Vienna,” the maestro angrily responded…
The role in “Il Tabarro” was changed, and Jeritza sang – and needless to say Puccini was excited at the change…
But I also found him grateful and very charmed by my Angelica. I have a letter from him, which appears here in facsimile, [not available] framed and nailed to the wall of a room in my home, bearing the beautiful inscription: “A la indimendicabile Angelica di Vienna.”
At the time of his stay in Vienna we had a performance of “La Bohème.” I sang Mimi. I figured it would be no pleasure for his ears to hear the words in German instead of the original Italian and when he didn’t join us at intermission, as we had hoped, I feared he had been disappointed. However, after the performance he came to see me in my dressing room, and when I asked him if he was happy with me, he replied: “Look into my eyes and you will see tears of gratitude.” –
Schnabel Rossi, who acted as interpreter, often said this and was so proud that he knew right away how much I would please Puccini.
Soeur Angelica was performed in Vienna as a memorial service for Puccini’s death, and my voice and my soul greeted the great master of cantilene. Perhaps my singing reached towards him in those bright regions to which he was destined to be enraptured.