“Lehmann is a wonderful teacher and an extraordinary woman as well. What art is there—what knowledge and understanding! What intensity there is in everything she does. She used to say: ’Remember, these four walls which inclose you, make a very different space to fill compared to an opera house; you must take this fact into consideration and study accordingly.’ No one ever said a truer word. If one only studies or sings in a room or studio, one has no idea of what it means to fill a theater. It is a distinct branch of one’s work to gain power and control and to adapt one’s self to large spaces. One can only learn this by doing it.
“It is sometimes remarked by listeners at the opera, that we sing too loud, or that we scream. They surely never think of the great size of the stage, of the distance from the proscenium arch to the footlights, or from the arch to the first set of wings. They do not consider that within recent years the size of the orchestra has been largely increased, so that we are obliged to sing against this great number of instruments, which are making every possible kind of a noise except that of a siren. It is no wonder that we must make much effort to be heard: sometimes the effort may seem injudicious. The point we must consider is to make the greatest possible effect with the least possible exertion.
“Lehmann is the most painstaking, devoted teacher a young singer can have. It is proof of her excellent method and her perfect understanding of vocal mastery, that she is still able to sing in public, if not with her old-time power, yet with good tone quality. It shows what an artist she really is. I always went over to her every summer, until the war came. We would work together at her villa in Gruenewald, which you yourself know. Or we would go for a holiday down nearer Salzburg, and would work there. We always worked wherever we were.
“How do I memorize? I play the song or role through a number of times, concentrating on both words and music at once. I am a pianist anyway; and committing to memory is very easy for me. I was trained to learn by heart from the very start. When I sang my little songs at six years old, mother would never let me have any music before me: I must know my songs by heart. And so I learned them quite naturally. To me singing was like talking to people.
“You ask me to explain the difference between the coloratura and the dramatic organ. I should say it is a difference of timbre. The coloratura voice is bright and brilliant in its higher portion, but becomes weaker and thinner as it descends; whereas the dramatic voice has a thicker, richer quality all through, especially in its lower register. The coloratura voice will sing upper C, and it will sound very high indeed. I might sing the same tone, but it would sound like A flat, because the tone would be of such totally different timbre.