B1263. LILLI LEHMANN. My Path Through Life [Autobiography]. New York, Putnam’s, 1914, First Edition. 510pp. Index; List of Lehmann’s Operatic Repertoire; Photos. Exceptional copy.
“During the 26 years that Richard Wagner brooded over THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG, no one character caused him greater anguish than his heroine Brünnhilde. Time & again he flung down his pen and paced the floor. He recalled in his autobiography that once ‘my courage failed me completely, for I could not help asking myself whether the singer had yet been born who was capable of vitalizing this heroic female figure’....
The first Brünnhilde was not easy to find, for most prima donnas impressed Wagner as being ‘silly, fastidious schoolgirls’. He finally chose Amalie Materna, a big-chested Styrian with a grand manner and a zooming voice. At that first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 one of the Rhine maidens was a pretty young Jewess named Lilli Lehmann. Wagner wanted to adopt her but her mother, who knew the master well, objected. Lehmann was a light coloratura then and no one, least of all Wagner, suspected that she was soon to cultivate dramatic rôles and sing Brünnhilde.
What Lehmann accomplished with the rôle has long been legendary. She sang it in the first GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG given in the U. S. in 1888, and therein set a standard which no other singer has ever quite achieved. Vocally she was a match for Wagner's mighty orchestra. Dramatically she was the ‘heroic female figure’ that Wagner imagined. Those who heard her have never forgotten the horror in her voice when she turned on Siegfried, the fury she became when she swore the piercing oath on the spear....”
- TIME Magazine, 11 March, 1935
“German soprano Lilli Lehmann enjoyed a long and brilliant career that began in Prague and Danzig and soared to the heights of operatic renown in Berlin, Vienna, London and New York. Coached by Wagner himself, she took part in the first complete RING Cycle at Bayreuth in 1876.”
- Loyal Bluto