For a certain time, Lubin thought about following in her father`s footsteps; he was a doctor, but she soon decided to study voice with de Martini and Isnardon at the Conservatoire de Paris. Gabriel Fauré himself, then director of the Conservatoire, taught her a large part of his songs which she kept in her concert repertory until the end of her career.
In 1913 she chose the role of Antonia in “Les Contes d`Hoffmann” for her debut at the Opéra Comique where she mainly concentrated on lyric roles such as Gounod`s Juliette and Thaïs during her first years and took part in the world premiere of Vincent d`Indy`s “La Légende de Saint Christophe” (with Paul Franz as her partner). After two years she moved on the Opéra (debuting role: Marguerite in “Faust”), Jaques Rouchés was then its director, which became her artistic home until her glorious career came to an unworthy end. Shortly after the end of World War I the singer appeared at the Opera House of Monte Carlo (“Thaïs” with Battistini, “Aida” and “Tosca” with Gigli and Octavian in “Der Rosenkavalier” with Ritter-Ciampi and the great Vanni-Marcoux under Victor De Sabata and with Max Reinhardt as stage director). “My diction was far from perfect and I was not a born actress” she confessed in an interview with Lanfranco Rasponi, “but under the guidance of my teacher and friend Félia Litvinne not only my diction improved remarkably but I also became a real actress. I owe it all to her.”
During the first years at the Opéra she continued to appear mainly in French Opera but also sang some Aidas and Toscas. In 1921 it was decided that it was time to bring Wagner back into the repertory of the Opéra. Lubin`s first great success as a Wagner-singer proved to be Sieglinde, one year later as Elsa she already was the leading soprano at the Opéra and Eva followed the next season. As Elsa under Clemens Krauss she made her debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1924 and was equally successful as Marguerite in “Faust” and Ariadne (under Strauss). Lubin studied the role of Donna Anna in “Don Giovanni”, which she first sang under Bruno Walter in Salzburg in 1931, with Lili Lehmann, she prepared Alceste (1926 at the Opéra with Georges Thill) with Félia Litvinne and Elektra (1932) with Marie Gutheil-Schoder which proved one of her greatest triumphs both as a singer and as an actress.
Lauritz Melchior recommended her to Heinz Tietjen of the Berlin State Opera after a guest performance as Parsifal at the Opéra. Her overwhelming debut on February 20th 1938 as Sieglinde led to an engagement at Bayreuth where she made her debut as Kundry in 1938 (at the age of 48 ) and not without some hesitation did she accept an invitation to return the following year as Isolde (with Max Lorenz under Victor De Sabata). It was her Isolde at Bayreuth, only some weeks before War broke out, which probably was the greatest artistic triumph of her career. Lubin flatly refused to come to Bayreuth the following year and stayed instead in occupied France but she did sing Isolde in a guest performance of the Berlin State Opera under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. To her vast repertory she added Fidelio and a wonderful Marschallin in “Rosenkavalier” and was chosen to appear as Charlotte in “Werther” on the occasion of Massenet`s centennial-celebration in 1942.
A performance as Alceste in 1944 proved to be her last appearance on an operatic stage. When France was finally liberated she was prohibited to appear publicly as a result of numerous rumors and accusations (last but not least her close friendship with Winifred Wagner) and part of her property and her passport were confiscated. Not until 1950, after all accusations had proved groundless, she gave a concert in Paris on May 29th which turned into a personal triumph.
Taken from operaviva.com, entry on Germaine Lubin
Germaine Lubin in her own words:
“I have suffered an enormous injustice. They curtailed my career by ten years – my own people! The fact is that I knew some of the Germans when they came to Paris during the occupation. This gave my enemies the chance to satisfy their envy…If I saw the Germans in Paris – and they had been more than kind to me – it was to save my compatriots. It was my way of serving my country at that particular moment. Nobody knows how many prisoners I had released…When I spent three years in prison, they confiscated my château at Tours and my possessions. Did anyone bother to ask me why I did not accept Winifred Wagner’s invitations to sing in Germany during the occupation? But my trial was a complete vindication: I was completely cleared. Yes, they gave back most of what they had taken…”
“Lubin Revisited” by Max de Schauensee