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Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

The recipient of both awards and critical superlatives in the late 1990s and early 2000s, mezzo soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was identified with the revival of Baroque-era vocal music specifically and with a deep capacity for emotional communication with audiences generally. Many who experienced Hunt Lieberson's performances in person came away with an uncanny feeling that she not only made operatic roles her own but also used them in the service of self-revelation, of emotional truth.

Born in San Francisco in 1954, Lorraine Hunt was the daughter of an opera conductor father and a singer mother. Her father made her listen to Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on the radio and pushed her vocal gift forward, but for much of her life she was primarily an instrumentalist. She studied violin and piano as a youngster and then switched to the viola, later crediting the sensitivity to musical surroundings that violists must cultivate with influencing her approach as a singer. As a music major at San Jose State University, Hunt studied both voice and viola but gravitated toward the latter after paying the bills with a seat in the San Jose Symphony. She became involved in the Bay Area's freewheeling music scene, briefly moving to Mexico at one point after her jazz musician boyfriend was arrested on drug charges there; she bribed guards to let her live with him in a cabin on the jail site.

In 1985 Hunt played the role of Sesto in a production of Handel's Julius Caesar directed by the innovative and controversial Peter Sellars, impressing observers with her hell-for-leather performance. A role in a 1987 production of Don Giovanni under Sellars, and the theft of her uninsured viola a year later, gave her a further push toward singing. She specialized strongly but not exclusively in Baroque works, appearing consistently more often with top early music ensembles like Les Arts Florissants, with whom she performed Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie under conductor William Christie during the 1996-1997 season.

In 1997 Hunt appeared at the Santa Fe Opera in a new work, Peter Lieberson's Ashoka's Dream. She married its composer two years later, but faced renewed challenges after being diagnosed with breast cancer and losing her sister Alexis to the disease in 2000. After undergoing a double lumpectomy, Hunt Lieberson responded artistically to this new challenge, appearing in a unique staging of two Bach cantatas (Ich habe genug and Mein Herz schwimmt in Blut) mounted by Sellars in London in 2001.

In the early 2000s, after Hunt Lieberson and her husband moved to Santa Fe, she cut back on her schedule of live appearances somewhat but continued to impress audiences with the intensity of her performances. Her relative obscurity compared with other mezzos of her talent level was partly due to her affinity for the live stage rather than the confines of the recording studio. Having been somewhat secretive about her illness, Hunt Lieberson died, much to surprise of the musical community, at home on July 3, 2006.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Berlioz: Les Nuits D'ete; Handel: Arias

Composer: Hector Berlioz
Title: Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7)

1. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): I. Villanelle

2. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): II. Le Spectre De La Rose

3. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): III. Sur Les Lagunes

4. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): IV. Absence

5. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): V. Au Cimetiere

6. Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7): VI. L'ile Inconnue

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17

7. Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17: Act II, Scene 6: Figlio Non è

8. Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17: L'Angue Offeso

Title: Ottone, Re Di Germania, Opera, HWV 15

9. Ottone, Re Di Germania, Opera, HWV 15: Act 2. Recit.: Ben A Ragion

10. Ottone, Re Di Germania, Opera, HWV 15: Act 2, 4: Vieni, O Figlio

Title: Arianna In Creta, Opera, HWV 32

11. Arianna In Creta, Opera, HWV 32: Act 1, 2: Mirami Altero In Volto

Title: Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17

12. Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17: La Giustizia

Title: Radamisto, Opera, Hwv 12

13. Radamisto, Opera, Hwv 12: Act II, Scene 2: Ombra Cara Di Mia Sposa

Title: Agrippina, Opera, Hwv 6

14. Agrippina, Opera, Hwv 6: Act 2, 20: Ogni Vento

Title: Radamisto, Opera, Hwv 12

15. Radamisto, Opera, Hwv 12: Act 3. Aria: Qual Nave Smarrita

x

Track List: Handel: Arias

Title: Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68

1. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: Recit. Ah! Whither Should We Fly

2. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: As With Rosy Steps

3. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: O Bright Example

4. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: Bane Of Virtue

5. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: The Clouds Begin To Veil The Hemisphere

6. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: Defend Her, Heav'n

7. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: Lord To Thee

8. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: She's Gone

9. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: New Scenes Of Joy

Title: La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145

10. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: O Numi Eterni! O Stelle, Stelle!

11. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Già Superbo, Del Mio Affanno

12. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Ma Voi Forse Nel Cielo

13. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Il Suol Che Preme, L'aura Che Spira

14. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Ah! Che Ancor Nell'abisso

15. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Alla Salma Infedel Porga La Pena

16. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: A Voi, A Voi, Padre, Consorte

17. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Già Nel Seno Comincia A Compir ... Furioso. Ma Se Qui Non M'è Dato

Title: Serse (Xerxes), Opera, Hwv 40

18. Serse (Xerxes), Opera, Hwv 40: Aria. Se Bramate D'amar, Chi VI Sdegna

19. Serse (Xerxes), Opera, Hwv 40: Frondi Tenere

20. Serse (Xerxes), Opera, Hwv 40: Ombra Mai Fu

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Track List: Recital: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson At Ravinia

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Title: Unbewegte Laue Luft, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 57/8

1. Unbewegte Laue Luft, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 57/8: Unbewegte Laue Luft

Title: Ruhe, Süssliebchen, Im Schatten, Song For Voice & Piano (Die Schöne Magelone), Op. 33/9

2. Ruhe, Süssliebchen, Im Schatten, Song For Voice & Piano (Die Schöne Magelone), Op. 33/9: Ruhe, Susliebchen, Im Schatten

Title: Von Ewiger Liebe ("Dunkel, Wie Dunkel In Wald Und In Feld!"), Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 43/1

3. Von Ewiger Liebe ("Dunkel, Wie Dunkel In Wald Und In Feld!"), Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 43/1: No. 1, Von Ewiger Liebe

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145

4. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: O Numi Eterni...già Superbo

5. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: Ma Voi Forse Nel Cielo / Il Suol Che Preme

6. La Lucrezia (O Numi Eterni), Cantata For Soprano & Continuo, HWV 145: A Voi, Padre, Consorte / Già Nel Seno Comincia Compir

Composer: Claude Debussy
Title: Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90

7. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: I. La Flute De Pan

8. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: II. La Chevelure

9. Chansons De Bilitis (3), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, L. 90: III. Le Tombeau Des Naiades

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Dans un bois solitaire, song for voice & piano, K. 308 (K. 295b)

10. Dans un bois solitaire, song for voice & piano, K. 308 (K. 295b): Dans Un Bois Solitaire

Title: Als Luise Die Briefe ("Erzeugt Von Heisser Phantasie"), Song For Voice & Piano, K. 520

11. Als Luise Die Briefe ("Erzeugt Von Heisser Phantasie"), Song For Voice & Piano, K. 520: Als Luise Die Briefe Ihres Ungetreuen Liebhabers Verbrannte

Title: Abendempfindung An Laura ("Abend Ist's"), Song For Voice & Piano, K. 523

12. Abendempfindung An Laura ("Abend Ist's"), Song For Voice & Piano, K. 523: Abendempfindung an Laura

Title: Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls Schöpfer ehrt, cantata for voice & piano, K. 619

13. Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls Schöpfer ehrt, cantata for voice & piano, K. 619: Eine Kleine Deutshce Kantate

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17

14. Giulio Cesare In Egitto, Opera, Hwv 17: Son Nata A Lagrimar

Composer: Harry (Henry) Thacker Burleigh
Title: Deep River

15. Deep River: Deep River

Composer: Bob Telson
Title: Bagdad Cafe, Film Score

16. Bagdad Cafe, Film Score: Calling You

x

Track List: Songs by Mahler, Handel & Peter Lieberson

Composer: Gustav Mahler
Title: Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra)

1. Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra): II. Ich Atmet' Einen Linden Duft

2. Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra): I. Blick' Mir Nicht In Die Lieder

3. Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra): IV. Liebst Du Um Schönheit

4. Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra): III. Um Mitternacht

5. Rückert Lieder, Song Collection For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra): V. Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Ariodante, Opera, Hwv 33

6. Ariodante, Opera, Hwv 33: E Vivo Ancore...scherza Infida

Title: Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68

7. Theodora, Oratorio, Hwv 68: As With Rosy Steps

Composer: Peter Lieberson
Title: Rilke Songs, For Voice & Piano

8. Rilke Songs, For Voice & Piano: O Ihr Zärtlichen

9. Rilke Songs, For Voice & Piano: Stiller Freund

Composer: Spoken Word
Title: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's Spoken Introduction To Triraksha's Aria From Ashoka's Dream

10. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's Spoken Introduction To Triraksha's Aria From Ashoka's Dream: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's Spoken Introduction To Triraksha's Aria From Ashoka's Dream

Composer: Peter Lieberson
Title: Ashoka's Dream, Opera

11. Ashoka's Dream, Opera: Triraksha's Aria

Composer: Traditional Spiritual
Title: Deep River

12. Deep River: Deep River

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Title: Unbewegte Laue Luft, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 57/8

13. Unbewegte Laue Luft, Song For Voice & Piano, Op. 57/8: Unbewegte Laue Luft

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