Tiana Lemnitz


Born: October 26, 1897 Died: February 2, 1994
Operatic soprano Tiana Lemnitz was best known for her interpretations of Mozart, Strauss, and the lighter Wagner heroines; her physical and vocal beauty made her Pamina especially admired among her Mozart roles. She was justly famous as both Octavian and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier as well as Wagner's Elisabeth, Elsa, Eva, and Sieglinde. Her graceful femininity was a welcome relief from some of the larger, more imposing sopranos often heard in these roles. Lemnitz was an equally fine recitalist but her operatic career overshadowed her concert appearances.

Her voice was a bright silvery soprano of great purity, especially beautiful in soft passages. She sang under many of the greatest conductors including Arturo Toscanini, Karl Böhm, Bruno Walter, Clemens Krauss, Thomas Beecham, and Erich Kleiber.

Born into a large family, Lemnitz was surrounded by music from birth. Her father was a bandmaster and her mother had an excellent voice. Although she began to sing solos in school at the age of seven, she received no formal vocal training until she entered the Metz music school at age 15. In 1919, she went to Frankfurt-am-Main to study with Dr. Hoch and Anton Kohmann. She made her debut in Albert Lortzing's Undine in 1921 at the Heilbronn Stadttheater. Her first contract was with the Aachen Stadttheater in 1922 where she debuted as Waltraute in Die Walküre. Her first success was as a last-minute replacement as Woglinde in Das Rheingold that same season. She remained at Aachen until 1928 singing many diverse roles including Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro), Pamina (The Magic Flute), Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Jenufa, Octavian, and Agathe in Der Freischütz.

In 1928, she went to the Stadttheater Bühnen in Hanover, first as a guest artist and then with a three-year contract. Her repertoire expanded to include roles in The Tales of Hoffmann, Madama Butterfly, Mignon, Manon Lescaut, Falstaff, Fanciulla del West, and The Merry Widow. During this period she also made guest appearances in Zoppot, Dresden, Antwerp, and Brussels. In 1933 she first appeared in Berlin as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg and in 1934 began her contract with the Berlin Staatsoper where she would remain for over 20 years. In her final years at Berlin she added the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and Marie in Wozzeck to her long list of opera roles.

In Berlin she took part in many world premieres including Graener's Der Prinz von Homburg, Wagner-Régeny's Die Bürger von Calais, and Künnecke's Die grosse Sünderin. Beside singing all of the standard roles appropriate for her voice she also appeared in Moniuszko's Halka, Rimsky-Korsakov's Invisible City of Kitezh, Smetana's Dalibor, and Tchaikovsky's The Enchantress. During her Berlin tenure Lemnitz made many guest appearances in London, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Warsaw. Due to the outbreak of World War II, her long awaited debut at the Metropolitan Opera was cancelled. Upon her retirement she took some students, but never took to teaching as a vocation.