Many of Lehmann students went on to world fame and others to highly successful careers. The most famous of her students, Marilyn Horne and Grace Bumbry, specialized in opera. Horne became an excellent bel canto singer, who, though she sang the verismo title role of Carmen, concentrated her talents in the coloratura characters found in operas by Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Bumbry, like Horne, sang in major opera houses throughout the world, but lived in Europe. Her fame rests on the dramatic mezzo soprano roles associated with Verdi. Both Horne and Bumbry sang at the White House and were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors award. One can easily buy CDs and DVDs of these women in their prime as opera singers. Their work as Lieder singers is less well known. Beaumont Glass is Bumbry’s pianist in Wolf’s “Anakreons Grab.” Horne sings Wagner’s “Träume.”
Other exceptional pupils included Benita Valente and Mildred Miller, who both appeared extensively at the Metropolitan Opera and also sang recitals. Valente was lauded for her Mozart and Handel singing, though she also sang certain Verdi roles. Her work in chamber music settings earned her the honor of having several pieces written for her voice and string quartet. Cynthia Raim is her pianist for “Die Nacht” by Strauss.
Miller sang mainly at the Metropolitan Opera from 1951—1974, often associated with the pants roles of Octavian, the Composer, Nicklausse, and Prince Orlofsky. She sang an amazing 338 performances there.
She tells of the first time she heard Lehmann and mentions the Brahms Lied, “Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund,” which you can hear Lehmann sing. Then Miller speaks of the importance, for her, of the Schumann Lied, “Aus der Heimat…,” which she sings with John Wustman, piano. Lehmann was so proud of her that she flew to New York when Miller made her Town Hall debut.
Though best known for her many years of teaching in Japan, Marcella Reale was a successful opera singer with a repertoire of over sixty roles. Focusing on verismo roles, Reale performed widely in Europe and Japan, singing the role of Butterfly 300 times. Listen to her sing “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca.
Lehmann’s final pupil was Jeannine Altmeyer, whose excellence in Wagner operas has been preserved on DVDs. Her European performances included Salzburg, Covent Garden, and Bayreuth. After her retirement, she recorded a Lied (Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade”) that she’d studied with Lehmann. Val Underwood is her pianist.
Carol Neblett studied privately with the then-elderly Lehmann. She had a worldwide career as an opera soprano and her recording of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt became a classic. She had great success at the New York City Opera, and sang as well at the Metropolitan Opera. Not famous for her Lieder, she did perform a tribute recital to her teacher for the Lehmann Centennial held at UCSB in 1988.
Luba Tcheresky was an alumna of Lehmann’s Music Academy of the West master classes for three years. She sang opera for a short time in Europe and in many genres in the United States. As with most of Lehmann’s students, she taught, in this case privately, for many years in New York City. Here’s a live performance of her singing Schumann’s “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” with Beaumont Glass, piano.
One of Lehmann’s most serious students was the Canadian soprano Shirley Sproule, who studied at the MAW both in the summer seasons, as well as the short-lived winter ones. She enjoyed a minor career in Europe and taught later in Canada and the U.S. Sproule was almost 80 years old when she recorded her tribute, “Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint” (Heaven Cried a Tear) by Schumann with Paula Fan, piano.
Evangeline Noël Glass studied at the MAW, appearing on the VAI opera and Lieder master class videos. She sang in such classes in Europe as well, where she taught with her husband, Lehmann’s biographer, Beaumont Glass.
The male students among Lehmann’s master classes and private lessons didn’t achieve the same fame as the women, but were able to enjoy satisfying careers. William Cochran’s beautiful tenor voice is heard here as Siegmund. The Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Maurice Abravanel (another MAW connection). He sang in major opera houses in the United States and at Covent Garden, and opera companies in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Vienna.
William Olvis was born in Los Angeles. His talents carried him from Hollywood to New York, on to Europe, and back to New York, where he performed with the Metropolitan Opera. The excerpt is from the movie based on the life of Sigmund Romberg called Deep in My Heart (1954). But Olvis also sang opera, as you’ll hear in the “Gewitter und Sturm” aria from Der fliegende Holländer.
Harve Presnell had a very successful career in Broadway and in Hollywood movies, most notably The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Presnell had sung with orchestras and opera companies, but his fame was due to his work in musical theatre and later as a character actor in films. We have a chance to hear him “classical” in the excerpt from Orff’s Carmina Burana, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.
In the following tracks we can hear Norman Mittelmann talk about studying with Lehmann and then hear him sing Schumann’s “Die beiden Grenediere” with Gale Enger on piano recorded in 2005, long after he’d retired. Mittelmann began singing opera in Lehmann’s productions at the MAW. In 1958 he made his debut in his Canadian homeland and later sang in major European and North and South American opera houses. Mittelmann made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1961 and sang there for the next 20 years.
One of the students for whom Lehmann held the most hope was Lincoln Clark, who expanded his career, and gradually left singing behind. We’ll let him tell the story.
The fame of Lehmann’s student Lotfi Mansouri was not at all as a singer, but as a director of operas. His work with the Canadian Opera Company, as well as the San Francisco Opera brought him deserved great recognition. Mansouri was responsible for the introduction of surtitles, which have done so much to make opera successful. His memories speak fondly of his work at the Music Academy of the West.
There are many singers who worked only peripherally with Lehmann. Marni Nixon is most famously known as the singing voice behind the star in the movies The King and I, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady. But her singing and acting career spanned Broadway, opera, concerts, and recordings both in avant-garde and standard repertoire. Her memory of working with Lehmann includes one under-appreciated element of singing: subtext. At the age of 75 she recorded Schoenberg’s cabaret song “Galathea” with pianist Thomas Bagwell. A nice further connection: they recorded in New York’s Town Hall, where Lehmann felt so at home.
Long before Lehmann taught at the Music Academy of the West, she coached many singers, including Jane Birkhead, Eleanor Steber, Risë Stevens, Rose Bampton, Nan Merriman, Dorothy Maynor, Anne Brown (the original Bess in Porgy and Bess), and Jeannette MacDonald.
During Lehmann’s Music Academy of the West years, and privately thereafter, star students included those mentioned above, as well as Karan Armstrong, Judith Beckmann, Kay Griffel, and Maralin Niska.
Manhattan School of Music students in the 1965 Town Hall master class included: Marc Vanderwerf, Barbara Blanchard, Celina Kellogg, and Glenda Maurice.
Established singers who valued Lehmann’s coaching included Hermann Prey, Gérard Souzay, Hilde Güden, Janet Baker, Thomas Moser, Rita Streich, Raimund Herincx, and Alberto Remedios.
Lotte Lehmann was the director/advisor of the 1962 Der Rosenkavalier for the Metropolitan Opera. For that occasion she coached the famous cast of females that included Régine Crespin as the Marschallin, Anneliese Rothenberger as Sophie and the reluctant Hertha Toepper, Octavian.
We look with some dismay at these names, because most of them, sadly, have already died.