Mr. and Mrs. Strauss

Richard Strauss once worked with a temperamental singer named Pauline de Ahna. In a rehearsal in which she sang the role of Elizabeth in Tännhauser, she made a mistake and he criticized her. They quarreled, and she ran to her dressing room. He followed her, and angry shouts could be heard for a while and then silence. People wondered who had killed whom in the dressing room. Finally, a representative of the orchestra knocked on the dressing room door. Mr. Strauss opened the door, and the orchestra representative said to him, “The orchestra is so horrified by the incredibly shocking behavior of Fräulein de Ahna that they feel they owe it to their honored conductor Strauss to refuse in the future to play in any opera in which she might have a part.” Mr. Strauss replied, “That hurts me very much, for I have just become engaged to Fräulein de Ahna.” Pauline’s temper tantrums continued after their marriage. Lotte Lehmann once had coffee and cakes with the Strausses in a garden. It rained, and Pauline berated her husband because of the rain. Ms. Lehmann said, “But, Pauline, how can your husband stop the rain?” Mr. Strauss said to Ms. Lehmann, Don’t defend me—that always makes it much worse!”

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