“The trouble with American girls is they are always in a hurry. They are not content to sit down quietly and study till they have developed themselves into something before they ever think of coming to Europe. They think if they can just come over here and sing for an artist, that fact alone will give them prestige in America. But that gives them quite the opposite reputation over here. American girls are too often looked upon as superficial, because they come over here quite unprepared. I say to all of them, as I say to you: Go home and study; there are plenty of good teachers of voice and piano in your own land. Then, when you can sing, come over here, if you wish; but do not come until you are prepared.”
After this little episode, we continued our talk for a while longer. Then, fearing to trespass on her time, we rose to leave. She came to the door with us, followed us down the steps into the front garden, and held the gate open for us, when we finally left. We had already expressed the hope that she might be able to return to America, at no very distant day, and repeat her former triumphs there. Her fine face lighted at the thought, and her last words to us were, as she held open the little iron wicket. “I have a great desire to go to your country again; perhaps, in a year or two—who knows—I may be able to do it.”
She stood there, a noble, commanding figure, framed in the green of her garden, and waved her handkerchief, till our cab turned a corner, and she was lost to our view.
THE MOZART FESTIVAL
Several years later, a year before the world war started, to be exact, we had the pleasure of meeting the artist again, and this time, of hearing her sing.
It was the occasion of the Mozart Festival in Salzburg. It is well known that Lehmann, devoted as she has always been to the genius of Mozart, and one of the greatest interpreters of his music, had thrown her whole energy into the founding of a suitable memorial to the master in his native city. This memorial was to consist of a large music school, a concert hall and home for opera. The Mozarteum was not yet completed, but a Festival was held each year in Salzburg, to aid the project. Madame Lehmann was always present and sang on these occasions.
We timed our visit to Mozart’s birthplace, so that we should be able to attend the Festival, which lasted as usual five days. The concerts were held in the Aula Academica, a fine Saal in the old picturesque quarter of the city.
At the opening concert, Lehmann sang a long, difficult Concert Aria of Mozart. We could not help wondering, before she began, how time had treated this great organ; whether we should be able to recognize the famous Lehmann who had formerly taken such high rank as singer and interpreter in America. We need not have feared that the voice had become impaired. Or, if it had been, it had become rejuvenated on this