On the forenoon of the days that she had to sing Isolde she always sang 원주스케일링 through the entire rôle in her rooms with full voice, just to make sure that she could do it in the evening. Compare this to those delicate prima donnas who, on the days when they have to sing, often speak only in whispers in order that their precious vocal cords may not be affected.

Having achieved so much through her own energy and triumphed over so many obstacles, she thought that she could similarly transform her husband, Paul Kalisch, from a lyric to a dramatic tenor. How she worked and harassed that poor man! She certainly was the stronger of the two, and while his entire inclination was toward easy and delightful companionship with others of similar inclinations, she forced him to study and to sing for hours at a stretch, but with only partial success as far as his transformation into a real dramatic and “heroic” Wagner tenor was concerned. It simply was not in his nature to become “heroic,” and when, as sometimes happened, he committed some blunder, some false entrance while singing Siegfried in the “Götterdämmerung,” the glances which Brunhilde cast upon him on the stage were so terrible, so pregnant with punishment to come, that from my conductor’s stand I used to pity the poor man thus compelled to swim around in a pond which was so much larger than he wanted; and often after such a performance I would find him moodily seated all alone at a table in the restaurant of the hotel with a pint bottle of champagne before him and with no desire to go upstairs and face the anger of his Brunhilde spouse.

A tragic but rather amusing occurrence in Pittsburgh should here be recorded. The Damrosch Opera Company was playing a week there at the Alvin Theatre. On the night in question we were to give “Götterdämmerung” with Lilli Lehmann as Brunhilde. All was well. No singers had sent ominous messages of illness during the day, and I had just sat down to a quiet dinner at the Duquesne Club, previous to the performance, when a telephone summoned me. It was my wardrobe mistress, Frau Engelhardt, an excellent woman, devoted to her work, who had been at the Metropolitan in the old German opera days and who had been with me ever since the founding of the Damrosch Opera Company. She implored me to come to the theatre immediately as something dreadful had happened. I of course left my dinner with but faint hope of eating it later on, arrived at the theatre and found the stage silent as the grave, the scene set for the first act of “Götterdämmerung” and seemingly no one there but Frau Engelhardt, who in greatest agitation begged me to come immediately to Madame Lehmann’s dressing-room, where the “something dreadful had happened.”

I knocked at her door and heard a tragic and hollow voice call “come in,” and as I opened the door a sight indeed terrible met my astonished gaze. There stood Lilli Lehmann, already apparelled in her white Brunhilde garb, but covered from head to foot with soot, so black that she seemed more fit for a minstrel show than a Wagner music-drama. Her face was covered with black streaks, especially where her tears had made long and terrible furrows down her cheeks. I could not imagine what had happened, and only gradually and between hysterical bursts of tears, I learned that Lilli, according to her custom, had gone to the theatre hours before the performance and had proceeded to dress herself, only looking into the glass at the last moment to prepare her make-up. She had then discovered the terrible condition of her face and costume. It seemed that the janitor had given the heater in the cellar a special raking which had sent tons of this dreadful Pittsburgh soft-coal soot flying through the registers and into the dressing-rooms where it settled like a pall on everything within reach.

Lilli vowed that it was absolutely impossible for her to sing that night and I was in despair. It suddenly came to me that if I could divert her mind in some way the tension might be eased, and I therefore turned on poor trembling Frau Engelhardt and told her in as angry tones as I could dramatically summon, that she was discharged, that it was her duty to take care of my artists, and to allow such an outrage to happen to the greatest of all of them was something which I could not understand or forgive.

As soon as I denounced our wardrobe mistress in this manner, Lilli pricked up her ears and remonstrated with me at my injustice. She insisted that it was not Frau Engelhardt’s fault and that it was very wrong of me to discharge her. It showed that I had no heart and she for one would never hold her responsible for such an occurrence. Slowly I allowed myself to be persuaded and at the psychological moment gently left the dressing-room, giving Frau Engelhardt a comprehensive glance which she understood. I knew that the two women together would soon set matters to right.

Outside the dressing-room I found my faithful Hans, son of my prompter, Goettich. I gave him some money and told him to run to a florist and buy a bunch of the whitest flowers that he could find and to bring them to Madame Lehmann with my compliments. I then returned to the club and finished my dinner.