Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died today

Composers have seasons dedicated to their anniversary years. The artists who perform their music go soundlessly to Orcus below.

I felt like I knew Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, as many did who heard her sing. She died 7 years ago today, at age 52 from complications from cancer. In addition to her liquid tone, and the way she imbued every note with personal meaning and intent, I admired most that she made music on her own terms.

She surrounded herself with the colleagues and repertoire she loved best, never bending to the wishes of greedy management or commercial forces. As such, she was perhaps the most sincere musician – singer or otherwise – before the public in modern times.

Here’s a round-up of remembrances and videos.

Interviews, features, and clips on NPR.

Alex Ross’s tribute, as reprinted in The Guardian (whose photo is also above).

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s tribute concert from this past May, with Spotify clips (listen to track 11, Dopo notte from Ariodante!).

The 63 CDs she sings on, as found on Amazon. I recommend the Handel arias on the third page, as Ross puts it: “pull-down-the-blinds, unplug- the-telephone, can’t-talk-right-now beautiful.”

Many arias and scenes are easily found on YouTube. Best to just scroll through, there are so many gems. I dug up these early ones, from the infamous production of Don Giovanni by Peter Sellars. She hadn’t yet started calling herself a mezzo then, and sang a touching Donna Anna.

A self-effacing blogger’s description of the full production is here.

And wonderfully, hauntingly, “Calling You,” from the film Bagdad Cafe, as she sang for one of her encores at her 2002 Tully Hall recital:

About thousandfoldecho

Everyone likes classical music. Not everyone knows it yet.
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5 Responses to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died today

  1. earwormopera says:

    She is greatly missed. I love her performance in Don Giovanni, and her profound and lovely singing as Irene in Handel’s Theodora has made me cry every time I’ve listened to it.

  2. Susan Marcus says:

    Thanks for the reminder of her anniversary. I have some wonderful memories of hearing her, say in the trouser role of Xerxes in a the New York City opera production. I was in the

    4 th row. She stood under a stage tree right
    in front of me and sang Ombra Mai fu right to me.

  3. scillagrace says:

    Marvelous performances…a soulful actress as well as a beautiful voice.

  4. Deon W. Owen says:

    Set in a time of ancient Rome’s persecution of the Christians, Handel’s late masterpiece Theodora tells of the tragic martyrdom of the heroine and her lover Didymus. The challenging nature of the libretto with its religious conflict, cruelty, self-sacrifice and brothel scene was discomforting for contemporary audiences, and despite Handel’s magnificent music the oratorio was his least successful.

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