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CLASSICAL  July 2006

CLASSICAL July 2006

Subject:

Nic McGegan's Memories of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Her First Review as a Singer

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 11 Jul 2006 12:09:49 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (66 lines)

[From the music director of Philharmonia Baroque, in the 7/11 www.sfcv.org]

   I first met Lorraine and heard her sing in the Handel Festival
   on the SUNY-Purchase campus in upstate New York in 1985.  She
   sang the role of Sesto in the premiere of Peter Sellar's production
   of Handel's Giulio Cesare.  It was obvious that she was an
   absolute star from the moment she came on stage.  I remember
   especially the duet with Cornelia at the end of the First Act.
   Aside from the wondrous beauty of her voice, there was an intensity
   of emotion that I have almost never heard from any other singer
   before or since.  Instantly, she became the true star of the
   show.
   
   The next year, we worked together on a production of Handel's
   Saul in San Antonio, Texas.  We both hugely enjoyed the slightly
   raffish atmosphere of the place and even danced the cha-cha
   together at a party. We lost our "Messiah virginity" together,
   with the St.  Louis Symphony in 1986.  It was wonderful to watch
   an orchestra become totally transfixed by her artistry.  It is
   still one of the performances of the piece that I treasure most
   fondly.
   
   For some seven years starting in about 1988, Lorraine sang almost
   every season with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and, as
   one might expect, she was always the highlight.  We performed
   several Handel oratorios, including Susanna, Messiah, and Theodora.
   Her singing of the title role in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas was
   so moving that the entire audience was reduced to tears by the
   end of the Lament.  Luckily, many of these performances were
   recorded, some of them live.  Nothing can ever beat the experience
   of actually being present while she sang, but listening to the
   CDs is still moving, especially knowing that we will hear her
   no more in the concert hall.
   
   Many of the roles she sang contained much sad music, but the
   process of rehearsing and recording with her was always filled
   with joy.  She had a tremendous sense of humor and was fond of
   a good story and a hearty laugh. I feel lucky to have known her,
   to have been her friend, and to have been beside her while she
   sang so gloriously.  (N.M.) 

And from what was perhaps her first review, from Charles Shere in the
Oakland Tribune, April 17, 1972, of a performance in the Oakland Symphony
Youth Orchestra, conducted by Denis deCoteau [late, long-time music
director of the San Francisco Ballet]:

   The Oakland Youth orchestra showed its stuff last night in an
   almost frightening display of competence and musicianship. At
   many points along the tiring two-hour-plus concert the sound was
   thoroughly professional.

   After Miss Jacob took her place next to the principal cellist,
   the assistant principal violist, Lorrie Hunt, came forward to
   sing "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice," from Saint-Saens' Samson and
   Delilah. It's not fanciful to suggest an affinity between her
   instrument and her voice, which is sweet, honey-dark and full,
   and seems to be produced with great ease. She simply stood there
   and sang, hardly even opening her mouth, with an even range,
   secure high notes, and marvelous control of dynamics in the
   swells, before the famous descending line of the aria. There was
   even some smolder to this 16-year-old's delivery of the seductress'
   aria.

Janos Gereben/SF
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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