This is a translation of Lehmann’s typewritten article found in Lehmann auf Deutsch.
It’s strange how long it took me to get the Metropolitan Opera’s commitment. I was already an internationally known singer, but only after my concert success in New York’s Town Hall did I get the contract I’d been waiting for for years. [Actually Maria had kept her erstwhile enemy away.]
The Metropolitan, like the Vienna State Opera, is the dream of all opera singers. So it was with great expectations that I started my engagement in New York. But it was actually a kind of an anticlimax. All the colleagues there had long been trusted friends from [Vienna and] many festival seasons all over Europe. And I saw right from the start that water is used for cooking everywhere… [No great deal!]
The venerable old house lived, so to speak, from the traditions of the Golden Age, which was blessed with singers like Caruso, Emmy Destinn, Geraldine Farrar, Schaljapin, and Alma Gluck, who inspired her daughter Marcia Davenport to write her famous novel: “The Great Career ” (Of Lena Geyer). [Which included a nice role for a soprano who was the combination of Gluck and Lehmann.]
My debut [at the Met] was as Sieglinde with the one and only incomparable Siegmund: Lauritz Melchior. Bodanzki [conducted]. Gatti-Casazza, the general manager, visited me in my dressing room and said many flattering things. I would have liked to have replied, “You could have had it much sooner…” but I was so blissful at my success that I chose to forget the late hour at which I had been remembered.
Gatti-Casazza was an imposing figure. He was a “Lord” – a great personality. His successor, Johnson, had an irresistible charm; he was extraordinarily amiable and so adept at dealing with the opera casts that they followed his suggestions, even if they weren’t exactly what they wanted…
Johnson really was the ideal theater director. At his side – as in the past at Gatti-Casazza’s – was my good old friend – Ziegler. When I was brand new to the Metropolitan Opera, I told my newly hired publicity manager, Constance Hope, “I’d like to say something very American to him,” and she advised me to start him off with “Hi, Toots!” as a greeting. I did, and he must have been very surprised at this lack of formality, but from that day on I was “Toots” to him… His death meant the loss of a good friend. –
[After Lehmann had left…] A new era came to opera with Rudolf Bing. He, who was born in Vienna, introduced an almost Prussian-like strict regime – an innovation that not all singers are happy to submit to.
The old house is now deserted, some glass palace rises in its place, [Lincoln Center] a house of industry and financial progress. May the wonderful spirit of the beautiful past come alive in it! May the old ideals revive and shine like a star throughout this era of cold technology !
My heartfelt good wishes go to the new generation that will continue what was once so glorious.
I knew Rudolf Bing when he was a very young man – the secretary and assistant to my concert manager Heller; I must confess I found him quite arrogant. He was extraordinarily handsome, but I think he knew that… I can safely say today that I didn’t like him, he has enough humor to be amused by it. Yes, he himself reminded me of my obvious dislike of those times…. He became a great man at the helm of opera and held the fate of many singers in his hands. What used to be undisguised arrogance is now a certain superiority with which he used to look down on the crowd entrusted to him. Of course I can only judge this very superficially, but I do think that my impression is the right one. He’s kind of an ambivalent nature: He loves the mountains in their seclusion and is happiest there with his wife and dog. His love of animals speaks to my heart and I’ve had the opportunity to see it confirmed.
With a secret longing for mountain solitude, he has to live in New York. So he spends his days and evenings at the Metropolitan Opera, cut off from Broadway’s unbearable disharmony. It’s his job, his calling.
And when he finally gets away from his exhausting work, will he be able to fully enjoy what he loves so much: the mountains, the wonderful nature? Will he miss the Metropolitan? Perhaps! For the Viennese, music is the breath of life!