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Program Change – The Art and Artistry of Lotte Lehmann – Jason Victor Serinus

March 3, 2012 - 9:00 am

March 3, 2012 – PROGRAM CHANGE

The Art and Artistry of Lotte Lehmann

Thomas J. Munn will not be able to be with us in March, due to a change in his artistic schedule.  His talk will be rescheduled for the Fall.

The Society is very grateful to the local music journalist Jason Victor Serinus, who has graciously agreed to create a special program for us.   His program will feature Lehmann’s vocal art from her many recordings of opera arias as well as lieder.  Mr. Serinus will provide an outline of his talk shortly.

Biographical information:  Lotte Lehmann was born in Perleberg, near Berlin in 1888.  Her stage career began in 1910 in Hamburg where she sang the role of a page in Lohengrin and her operatic continued until  to 1946 with performances at the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera.  She created the starring roles in Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The Empress), Intermezzo (Christine), and Arabella and she was highly revered for her performances in the role of the Marschallin.  In Wagner she sang the roles of Irene (Rienzi), Freia, Wellgunde, Ortlinde, Gertlinde, Sieglinde, Eva, Gudrune, 3rd Norn, Wellgunde and Elizabeth, along with various Pages, Flower Maidens, Apprentices and Shepherds.  Lehmann continuted to perform concerts and lieder recitals until 1951.  However perhaps her greatest legacy was her work as a teacher.  Lehmann founded The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara in 1947 where taught Master Classes.  Lehmann taught Master Classes all over the world, made dozens of recordings, wrote text books and poetry and was also a painter.  Lotte Lehmann graced the stage of the San Francisco Opera first as Floria Tosca in 1934 and 1936 and then as Sieglinde in 1936.  Lehmann sang the role of the Marschallin for San Francisco Opera in 1940, 1941, 1945 and 1946 (for San Francisco Opera in Los Angeles 1940, 1941 and 1946 and Sacramento 1945).  Lotte Lehmann died in 1976.

From Jason:  I first discovered the voice of Lotte Lehmann on a Seraphim LP issued in 1968, in honor of her 80th birthday. I was immediately entranced by her artistry, and fell hopelessly – some would say hopefully – in love. I still am. 

Lehmann has served as one of my principal guides through the world of opera and lied, teaching me that it is possible to communicate the deepest feelings of love and longing through the human voice. When I hear her sing, I hear the heart at its most open and truthful.

Even though I have been teaching classes on vocal music for Osher Lifelong Learning at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, and presenting opera previews for West Bay Opera, I am anything but an academic. Course outlines are not my thing. With the reality of this presentation less than a week old, I can simply assure you that, within a very packed hour, we will explore the many facets of Lehmann’s artistry, using recordings made at different points in her career. We may also take a glance at one of her Master Classes. Our touchstones will include, of course, her indispensable commercial recordings of Sieglinde, supplemented by the extraordinary live performance of Die Walküre Act II in the War Memorial Opera House in 1936 and, perhaps, a later performance of the opera presented by the Met. You can also expect, at the minimum, some Schubert and Strauss. Since the afternoon is about music, not religion, we will also touch upon Lehmann’s vocal shortcomings, and the brilliant way that she turned these (as much as anyone can or could) into greater opportunities for emotional expression.

To give you the finest “portable” sound possible, I am bringing the same computer-based sound system I wrote up in my “Downloading Primer” for San Francisco Classical Voice http://www.sfcv.org/article/downloading-primer-how-to-get-the-most-from-your-clicks-0. You may be amazed how good these old recordings can sound.


Jason Victor Serinus was hooked on opera before he emerged from the womb. In addition to writing about music and high-end audio for San Francisco Classical Voice (sfcv.org), Opera News, Opera Now, American Record Guide, Stereophile, San Francisco Magazine, Robb Report, Carnegie Hall Playbill, Stanford Lively Arts, East Bay Express, San Francisco Examiner, Bay Area Reporter, hometheaterhifi.com, California Magazine, and other publications, he occasionally performs as a whistler. See http://www.jasonserinus.com





March 3, 2012
9:00 am

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