- Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (
March 1 1954– July 3 2006) was a renowned American sopranothen mezzo-soprano, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. ["New York Times" obituary, July 2006 [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/05/arts/music/05hunt.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=lorraine%20hunt%20lieberson&st=cse&oref=slogin] ] .
Her parents were both involved with the opera; mother, Marcia, was a contralto and music teacher and her father, Randolph, taught music in high school and college. She performed as a child in Hansel & Gretel, as a gingerbread boy. She returned to opera after doing a charity performance at a prison, singing Hansel's role in Hansel & Gretel. [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5540948 1996 Terry Gross , "Fresh Air"] ] After this performance, she auditioned for the Met, at age 29.
composer Peter Liebersonin 1999 and changed her name to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson; they collaborated professionally as well. Among their collaborations are "Rilke Songs" and "Neruda Songs", both of which were issued in recordings, as well as Hunt Lieberson's performance in the world premiere of his opera "Ashoka's Dream" at the Santa Fe Opera.
She died after a long battle with
breast canceron July 3, 2006at the age of 52 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Only a few years previously, she had nursed her sister through her final illness with the same disease. ["New York Times"]
She began her musical career as a violist, and became principal
violawith the San Jose Symphony. At age 26, she turned to studying voice seriously at the Boston Conservatory of Music. Her professional career as a singer began in 1984, and in 1985 made her operatic debut after meeting Peter Sellarsand appearing in his 1985 production of Handel's " Giulio Cesare". Lorraine began working with Craig Smith at [http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/news/news_08-09lorraine_at_emmanuel.htm Emmanuel Church] as a violist, then sang in the chorus and began taking leading roles. [ [http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2007/11/15/craig_smith_60_with_emmanuel_he_created_a_nexus_of_joy_and_music/ Craig Smith obituary] ] Her work with Emmanuel continued throughout the 1980's and 1990's, and a recording of her work there in Bach and Handel was released in 2008 by Avie Records, "Lorraine at Emmanuel."
Her debut performance at the
Metropolitan Operacame during the 1999-2000 season, in eleven performances in the role of Myrtle Wilson in the world premiere of John Harbison's "The Great Gatsby" (first performance on December 20, 1999). During this same season, she also appeared as Sesto in the New York City Opera's production of "La Clemenza di Tito", as well playing La Perelin in Kaija Saariaho's "Clemence" at the Salzburg Festival. Her only other performance at the Met came in the 2001-2002 season in the role of Dido in Berlioz' "Les Troyens", where she appeared in four performances in February, 2002. Prior to her death, she was scheduled to sing the role of Orfeoin a new production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. She was replaced by countertenor David Daniels, and the four performance run was dedicated to her memory.
Among the roles she played during her career are Sesto (
Mozart's " La clemenza di Tito"), " Carmen" ( Bizet), "Médée" ( Marc-Antoine Charpentier, with William Christie & Les Arts Florissants), Theodora and Irene ( Handel's "Theodora", Theodora at Göttingenwith Nicholas McGegan, Irene at Glyndebourne with Christie), Minerva ( Monteverdi's " Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria" with René Jacobs), " Ariodante" (Handel), and " Serse" ( Handel).
Critical opinions of her work, both in live performance and in recordings, have generally been high. Most reviewers make note of her beautiful tone and controlled style.
Those who worked with Hunt Lieberson have spoken of her intense commitment to the detail of bringing a piece to life. French vocal coach
Denise Massésaid in the same [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040105fa_fact "New Yorker" magazine interview] , “Lorraine is like Callas in her determination to dig as deeply as possible into the character—to find all the grain in the wood.”
In June, 2005, she made her last appearance in Amsterdam, performing the Sellars staging of Bach's "Ich Habe Genug," of which personal recordings are available. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOI9hvPPOqU joopschilp] ] Her final public performances were given on March 16, 17, and 18, 2006, at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. She performed in Mahler's Symphony no. 2 with the
Chicago Symphony Orchestraand Chorus; Michael Tilson Thomaswas the conductor and Celena Shafer was the soprano soloist.
In 2007, she posthumously received the
Grammy Awardfor Best Classical Vocal Performance for her "Rilke Songs, "and in 2008 won again posthumously for her performance of her husband's "Neruda Songs"."
Besides those mentioned above, her most recent recordings include two of
Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantatas, #82 and #199 , which made the New York Timestop 10 classical albums of the year and No. 3 on the Billboard classical chart. She also recorded a CD of George Frideric Handel's Arias. Musical Americarecognized her as the 2001 Vocalist of the Year.
External Links and Sources
* [http://www.nonesuch.com/nerudasongs/ Neruda Songs, new album on Nonesuch]
*imdb name|id=0402542|name=Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
* [http://www.geocities.com/jrpsong/lhl.html Information about Lorraine Hunt Lieberson]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5540948 1996 Terry Gross , "Fresh Air" interview, 14 minutes]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1626138 NPR story on Hunt Lieberson, 2002]
* [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040105fa_fact "The New Yorker" Profile, "The Soul Singer: A mezzo with the most potent voice since Callas." January 5, 2004 issue]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/05/arts/music/05hunt.html "The New York Times" Obituary, "Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Luminous Mezzo, Dies at 52," July 5, 2006]
* [http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-lieberson5jul05,1,3646303.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california "Los Angeles Times" Obituary, "Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, 52; Mezzo-Soprano of Great Range," July 5, 2006]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5540945 Lloyd Schwartz, "Fresh Air" appreciation, July 7, 2006]
* [http://www.radioopensource.org/lorraine-hunt-lieberson-remembered/ "Radio Open Source" tribute "Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Remembered", July 13, 2006]
* [http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/09/25/060925crmu_music "The New Yorker" Remembrance by Alex Ross, "Fervor: Remembering Lorraine Hunt Lieberson." September 25, 2006 issue]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.