Sad to report that Ms Hunt Lieberson has lost her battle with cancer, passing away 2 days ago. I have both her recordings on SACD (this one and MTT's Mahler 2) and I'm sure anyone who heard either would agree she was a phenomenal singer.
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Singer of Bach, Handel, Dies at 52
July 4 -- 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
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
Her incandescent Didon in Francesca Zambello's 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.
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.