Lehmann, Lotte, celebrated German-born American soprano; b. Perleberg, Feb. 27, 1888; d. Santa Barbara, Calif., Aug. 26, 1976. She studied in Berlin with Erna Tiedka, Eva Reinhold, and Mathilde Mallinger. She made her operatic debut on Sept. 2, 1910, as the second Boy in Die Zauberflöte at the Hamburg Opera; her first major role came before that year was out, and she soon was given important parts in Wagner’s operas, establishing herself as one of the finest Wagnerian singers. In 1914 she made her first appearance in London as Sophie at Drury Lane. In 1916 she was engaged at the Vienna Opera. Richard Strauss selected her to sing the Composer in the revised version of his Ariadne auf Naxos when it was first performed in Vienna (Oct. 4, 1916); then she appeared as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, and later as the Marschallin, which became one of her most famous roles. She also created the roles of Fäberin (the Dyer’s wife) in his Die Frau ohne Schatten (Vienna, Oct. 10, 1919) and Christine in his Intermezzo (Dresden, Nov. 4, 1924). In 1922 she toured in South America. In 1924 she made her first appearance at London’s Covent Garden as the Marschallin, and continued to sing there regularly with great success until 1935; appeared there again in 1938. On Oct. 28, 1930, she made her U.S. debut as Sieglinde with the Chicago Opera, and on Jan. 11, 1934, sang Sieglinde at her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. She continued to appear at the Metropolitan, with mounting success, in the roles of Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Tosca, and the Marschallin, until her farewell performance as the Marschallin on Feb. 23, 1945. In 1946 she appeared as the Marschallin for the last time in San Francisco. In 1945 she became a naturalized American citizen. She gave her last recital in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Aug. 7, 1951, and thereafter devoted herself to teaching. Lehmann was universally recognized as one of the greatest singers of the century. The beauty of her voice, combined with her rare musicianship, made her a compelling artist of the highest order. In addition to her unforgettable Strauss roles, she excelled as Mozart’s Countess and Donna Elvira, Beethoven’s Leonore, and Wagner’s Elisabeth, Elsa, and Eva, among others. She publ. a novel, Orplid mein Land (1937; Eng. ed., 1938, as Eternal Flight); an autobiography, Anfang und Aufstieg (Vienna, 1937; in London as Wings of Song, 1938; in N.Y. as Midway in My Song, 1938); More Than Singing (N.Y., 1945); My Many Lives (N.Y, 1948); Five Operas and Richard Strauss (N.Y, 1964; in London as Singing with Richard Strauss, 1964); Eighteen Song Cycles (London and N.Y, 1971).
B. Wessling, L. L….mehr als eine Sängerin (Salzburg, 1969); B. Glass, L. L: A Life in Opera & Song (Santa Barbara, Calif., 1988); A. Jefferson, L. L.:1888-1976: A Centenary Biography (London, 1988); B. Wessling, L. L.:“Sie sang, dass es Sterne rührte”: Eine Biographie (Cologne, 1995).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire