was one of the most extraordinary singers and stage personalities of the 20th century. Both in opera and as a recitalist she belonged among the world stars of her generation. Puccini, Toscanini and Caruso loved her italianate sound and her passionate temperament. Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Richard Strauss composed several roles in their operas explicitly for her.
Her career began at the Hamburg State Opera in 1910 where she was soon discovered by the general manager of the Vienna State Opera. For more than twenty years she was one of the darlings of the discriminating Viennese public while also conquering the audiences in Paris, London, Berlin, New York and even Australia. She scorned Hermann Göring's offer to become the prize singer of the Nazi government and emigrated to the US in 1938. With her legendary portrayals of Sieglinde, Elsa and the Marschallin she had already established herself as a star in Chicago, San Francisco and at the Metropolitan Opera, and her recitals made her the foremost ambassador
of German art song - this was her way of staying true to the culture of her homeland while condemning the destruction spread by the Nazis in Europe.
In 1945 she bade farewell to the operatic stage in a final performance of Rosenkavalier at the Met, and in 1951 Lehmann gave her last recital in New York's Town Hall. She helped found the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, where she taught virtually until her death in 1976, passing on her legacy to an outstanding generation of world-class singers such as Grace Bumbry, Marilyn Horne, Sue Patchell, Martile Rowland, Thomas Moser and Karan Armstrong.
While she was revered and honored in the US, as well as in London, Paris and Vienna, Germany largely forgot Lotte Lehmann until a very recent number of initiatives germinated in her birthplace, a small town that lies halfway between Hamburg and Berlin, called Perleberg.