Ernestine Schumann-Heink


Ernestine Schumann-Heink


Conditions were rather cramped in the Detroit concert hall where Schumann-Heink was to perform. As the portly singer struggled through the orchestra pit to make her entrance, music racks crashed to the floor. The conductor looked on in alarm. “Sideways, madam,” he whispered urgently, “go sideways.”

“Mein Gott!” cried the singer in reply. “I haff no sideways!”

Biographical Note: 
Ernestine Schumann-Heink in “Love’s Lottery,” 1904

Ernestine Schumann-Heink was an Austrian-born contralto. She was a noted interpreter of Wagnerian roles and was known for her sense of humor and hearty appetite. She became a naturalized American citizen in 1908. Her voice, of an even quality in all registers, possessed great power, making it peculiarly suitable to Wagnerian roles.