Judith Beckman(n) and her husband Irving, worked with Lehmann in master classes in the 1960s and beyond, as you’ll read from this recent (2016) correspondence.
“We have no tapes of our private lessons, which took place in what may have been in Mme Lehmann’s last year [at the Music Academy of the West]. She coached me on the Marschallin: her thoughts became the center for my interpretation of the great role. I never sang the part without thinking of her and her wonderful poetic views: an entirely European insight, which was so far from my midwestern/Southern California mindset! She inspired me from my debut with the renowned Rudolf Hartmann through productions with Otto Schenk and August Everding to the Munich Festival with Carlos Kleiber (and many others before and since). She was truly a “Jahrhundert Künstlerin” [an Artist of the Century]; what a privilege to have learned from her!”
Rose Bampton was another soprano who knew what Lehmann could teach her.
“While I was in Buenos Aires I was asked to sing the Marschallin. Jarmila Novotna, a great Octavian, was there too. But I said: ‘No, I can’t do it this year.’ ‘Why not?’ they wanted to know. ‘We’d give you all the coaching, and you would have a wonderful director.’ ‘Because I haven’t worked with Lotte Lehmann yet. Until I’ve worked with her on that role of all roles, I won’t feel I know it.’
“So I didn’t do Rosenkavalier that year. In a sense that made me sad, for I would have loved to do it with Novotna. But I had seen Lehmann in the part; and that had been such an unforgettable experience that I knew I would have to study it with her.
“When I was acting out the end of the first act for Lotte, I did what I had always seen her do in that touching postlude, when she lets the mirror slip out of her hand. That was a famous moment in her interpretation. But she stopped me. ‘No,’ she said, ‘you may not copy me! It’s very nice; but you must never copy anything I do. It must come from within you. You must find a way to do it that is from you.’
“Nevertheless, that gesture seemed so natural and so right, that I confess to using it after all, when I performed the Marschallin. I couldn’t help feeling it had to be like that.”
Beaumont Glass became Lehmann’s biographer in 1988, but in the following reminiscence he was at the Music Academy of the West as both student and pianist. From her master classes he gleaned a lot that he’d use later as a director of operas.
“Every character came to life in a uniquely believable way. The greatest privilege of all was to see her re-enact her world-famous Marschallin, with a thousand half-lights and nuances, ‘a tear in one eye and a twinkle in the other,’ as Strauss had prescribed. Nothing that she did ever had the stale whiff of ‘routine.’ Everything was freshly recreated, out of her mind and heart and soul, no matter how often she had performed it during a long career.”