Fwd: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Gifted Singer, Is Dead at 52
- In a message dated 7/5/2006 1:21:07 PM Eastern Standard Time, ROBINSONMF writes:
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Gifted Singer, Is Dead at 52 (Update1) July 4 (Bloomberg) -- Mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, 52, died of cancer on July 3 at the height of her musical and expressive powers.
Her last professional activity had been touring with the Boston Symphony in March, singing music by her husband, Peter Lieberson, before and after which she canceled many bookings.
Hunt Lieberson occupied a special place on the music scene due to the protean nature of her musical interests -- baroque to contemporary -- extraordinary gifts and the committed, spiritual aura both her presence and plangent voice conveyed.
San Francisco-born, she grew up musically as a violist, working with the San Jose Symphony. Her profound musicality sustained her in her first phase as a vocalist, initially as a soprano, in the Boston and Berkeley early-music worlds with which she never lost contact. Conductors Nicholas McGegan and William Christie introduced her to European festival audiences in Handel and Rameau roles.
Contemporary challenges also drew her: music not only of her husband (a Bridge CD uniting their work set to emerge this week memorializes this partnership) but of John Adams, John Harbison and Kaija Saariaho.
Peter Sellars was an early champion of her Boston-based career, using her in imaginatively updated productions of Handel's ``Giulio Cesare'' and ``Theodora'' plus Mozart's ``Don Giovanni'' (seen at the Purchase Festival in 1987, her strung-out Elvira was the first glimpse most New Yorkers caught of her). Fortunately, these collaborations are preserved on DVD.
In Boston and at New York City Opera, she incarnated the arrogance, yearning and humor of the scheming royal in Stephen Wadsworth's memorable 1997 staging of Handel's ``Xerxes.''
Her career at the Metropolitan Opera proved typically quixotic: she first bowed as a sexy, tough Myrtle Wilson in Harbison's ``The Great Gatsby'' in 1999. With Susan Graham's Jordan Baker, she stole the show. That New Year's Eve, with James Levine accompanying, she limned the spiritual ``Deep River'' (a frequent concert encore) during ``Die Fledermaus.'' Later, she improbably shared the bill with the Three Tenors at a 2000 gala, singing Act IV of ``Carmen'' opposite Jose Carreras.
Her incandescent Didon in Francesca Zambello's vivid 2003 staging of Berlioz's ``Les Troyens'' will stay in the grateful memory of any attending the mere four performances she felt her resources allowed her.
``She had a special light,'' said Zambello, ``that infused everything she did on the stage. She inspired others to rise up to her level. Yet she was playful, too. I will always remember her hitting Ben Heppner on the head with pillows during the rehearsals and then going on to sing one of the most seductive love duets ever written.''
New Met chief Peter Gelb had proudly announced her for Gluck's ``Orfeo ed Euridice'' in May 2007, directed by Mark Morris with Levine conducting. Earlier she was to tackle another challenge: Mere Marie in Poulenc's ``Dialogues des Carmelites'' for Lyric Opera of Chicago. These shows may go on, though no one can replace Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in our musical life.
To contact the reporter on this story:
David Shengold at shengold@....
Last Updated: July 4, 2006 18:30 EDT
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