After my recent excursion into instrumental music, I decided to return to vocal music with one of my favorite sopranos, Lotte Lehmann. She, like many singers of her time, is not without controversy, but as I mention below, I am overlooking that for the sheer beauty of the artistry.
Georg Friedrich Daumer
Wehe, Lüftchen, lind und lieblich
Um die Wange der Geliebten,
Spiele zart in ihrer Locke,
Eile nicht, hinwegzufliehn!
Tut sie dann vielleicht die Frage,
Wie es um mich Armen stehe,
Sprich: „Unendlich war sein Wehe,
Höchst bedenklich seine Lage;
Aber jetzo kann er hoffen
Wieder herrlich aufzuleben,
Denn du, Holde, denkst an ihn.“
Blow breeze, gently and sweetly
About the cheek of my beloved,
Play softly with her tresses,
Make no haste to fly away!
Then if she should chance to ask
How things are with wretched me,
Say: ‘His sorrow’s been unending,
His condition most grave;
But now he can hope
To revel in life once more,
For you, fair one, think of him.’
Mignons Gesang „Kennst du das Land?“
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,
Im dunklen Laub die Gold-Orangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht,
Kennst du es wohl?
Möcht’ ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn.
Mignon’s Song (‘Do you know the land?’) – Thomas
Do you know the land where lemon trees blossom;
where golden oranges glow amid dark leaves?
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
the myrtle stands silent, the laurel tall:
do you know it?
There, O there
I desire to go with you, my beloved!
O wie schön ist deine Welt,
Vater, wenn sie golden strahlet!
Wenn dein Glanz herniederfällt,
Und den Staub mit Schimmer malet;
Wenn das Rot, das in der Wolke blinkt,
In mein stilles Fenster sinkt!
Könnt’ ich klagen, könnt’ ich zagen?
Irre sein an dir und mir?
Nein, ich will im Busen tragen
Deinen Himmel schon allhier.
Und dies Herz, eh’ es zusammenbricht,
Trinkt noch Glut und schlürft noch Licht.
In the glow of evening
How lovely is your world,
Father, in its golden radiance
when your glory descends
and paints the dust with glitter;
when the red light that shines from the clouds
falls silently upon my window.
Could I complain? Could I be apprehensive?
Could I lose faith in you and in myself?
No, I already bear your heaven
here within my heart.
And this heart, before it breaks,
still drinks in the fire and savors the light.
Let me warn you that there are some strange cuts in the music preceding the aria. I will give you exactly what Lehmann sings.
Sie atmet leicht, sie geht so leicht,
kein Halm bewegt sich, wo sie geht,
ihr Schlaf ist rein, ihr Sinn ist klar,
ihr Herz ist lauter wie der Quell:
Sie hält sich gut, drum kommt auch bald der Tag,
da darf sie sich in ihren Mantel wicklen,
darf ihr Gesicht mit einem Tuch bedenken,
und darf da drinnen liegen und eine Tote sein!
Es gibt ein Reich, wo alles rein ist,
Es hat auch einen Namen: Totenreich.
Hier ist nichts rein! Hier kann alles zu allem.
Bald aber naht ein Bote, Hermes heißen sie ihn.
Mit seinem Stab regiert er die Seelen:
Wie leichte Vögel, wie welke Blätter treibt er sie hin.
Du schöner, stiller Gott! sieh! Ariadne wartet!
Ach, von allen wilden Schmerzen muß das Herz gereinigt sein.
Dann wird dein Gesicht mir nicken,
wird dein Schritt vor meiner Höhle,
dunkel wird auf meinen Augen,
deine Hand auf meinem Herzen sein;
In den schönen Feierkleidern, die mir meine Mutter gab,
diese Glieder werden bleiben, stille Höhle wird mein Grab.
Aber lautlos meine Seele folget ihrem neuen Herrn,
wie ein leichtes Blatt im Winde,
folgt hinunter, folgt so gern.
Dunkel wird au meinen Augen,
und in meinem Herzen sein,
diese Glieder werden bleiben
schön geschmücktk und ganz allein.
Du wirst mich befreien, mir selber mich geben,
dies lastende Leben, du nimm es von mir.
An dich wird ich mich ganz verlieren,
bei dir wird Ariadne sein.
She breathes lightly, she walks so lightly,
no blade stirs where she treads,
Her sleep is chaste, her mind is clear,
Her heart is as pure as a spring:
She keeps herself undefiled, for the day is soon to come,
When she can wrap herself in her mantle,
Can cover her face with a cloth,
and can lie inside there, lie and be a dead woman!
There is a realm where all is pure:
It has also a name: Realm of Death.
Hier is nothing pure! Here all is finished.
Soon however, a messenger draws nigh, Hermes they call him.
He rules all souls with his staff:
Like light birds, like dry leaves he drives them before him.
You beautiful, serene god! Behold! Ariadne is waiting!
Ah, my heart must be cleansed of all wild grief.
Then your face will beckon to me,
Your steps will approach my cave.
It will be dark over my eyes,
and you will place your hand on my heart;
In the beautiful festive robes that my Mother gave to me,
this body will remain, the silent cave my grave.
But silently my soul will follow its new lord,
like a light leaf in the wind,
following downward, following so gladly.
Darkness will cover my eyes as well as my heart,
richly adorned and all alone.
You will set me free, you will give me to myself,
and take this burdensome life from me,
I will lose myself entirely in you,
with you shall Ariadne abide.
Charlotte “Lotte” Lehmann (February 27, 1888 – August 26, 1976) was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart, and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Sieglinde in Die Walküre and the title role in Fidelio are considered her greatest roles. During her long career, Lehmann also made more than five hundred recordings. Her performances in the world of Lieder are considered among the best ever recorded.
Lehmann was born in Perleberg, Province of Brandenburg. In 1926 she married Otto Krause, who died in 1939. After studying in Berlin , she made her debut at the Hamburg Opera in 1910 as a page in Wagner’s Lohengrin. In 1914, she gave her debut as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Vienna Court Opera – the later Vienna State Opera –, which she joined in 1916. In her 21 years with the company, Lehmann sang more than fifty different roles at the Vienna State Opera, many of them premier roles. She made her debut in London in 1914, and from 1924 to 1935 she performed regularly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1937, performing with Arturo Toscanini, among other conductors. She also gave recitals there accompanied at the piano by the conductor Bruno Walter.
In 1930, Lehmann made her American debut in Chicago as Sieglinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre. She returned to the United States every season and also performed several times in South America. Before Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Lehmann emigrated to the United States (because of her interactions with Göring , and because her stepchildren had a Jewish mother). The controversy over her tale of with Goering has been thoroughly analyzed by Dr. Kater in his Lehmann biography, Never Sang for Hitler: The Life and Times of Lotte Lehmann. Lehmann’s version was self-serving though colorful. Please see the article in the link for more information, Lotte Lehmann and Nazi Germany . She continued to sing at the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera until 1945.
It gives me great pause to read about Lehmann’s intrigues during the Third Reich as I had never known about them before. I suppose that the only thing that I can say to this is that were others who did as she did during the war, and that eventually, she was thrown out of Germany, for a variety of reasons. So, I will file this information in the back of my mind and listen to her as an artist.
Lehmann was a renowned singer of lieder, giving frequent recitals throughout her career. She recorded and toured with pianist Ernő Balogh in the 1930s. Beginning with her first recital tour to Australia in 1937, she worked closely with the accompanist Paul Ulanowsky. He remained her primary accompanist for concerts and master classes.
After her retirement from the recital stage in 1951, Lehmann taught master classes at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, which she helped found in 1947. She also gave master classes in New York City’s Town Hall (for the Manhattan School of Music), Chicago, London, Vienna, and other cities.
Lehmann died in 1976 at the age of 88 in Santa Barbara, California. She is interred in the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.
In 1926 Lehmann married Otto Krause, a former officer in the Austrian army and later an insurance executive. They had no children. Krause, who died of tuberculosis in 1939, had four children from a previous marriage. Lehmann never remarried. After Krause’s death until her own death in 1976 Lehmann shared a home with Frances Holden (1899–1996), a psychologist who specialized in the study of genius, particularly that of classical musicians.