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Lorraine Hunt Lieberson

Following a long battle with cancer, the much-loved American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who has been called the greatest living opera singer, astonishing, and the most potent mezzo since Callas, died on 3 July 2006, aged 52, at home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Born on 1 March 1954 as Lorraine Hunt to musical parents in San Francisco, she studied voice and viola in San Jose, and began her professional career as a freelance viola player. She moved to Boston and continued her freelance career, but also studied singing at the Conservatory.

She began to be really noticed as a singer in 1985, after singing the part of Sesto in Giulio Cesare for Peter Sellars at the Pepsico Summerfare Festival in Purchase, NY. From then on she worked with various major figures, including William Christie and Nicholas McGegan (with whom she made a series of recordings for harmonia mundi of Handel operas and oratorios).

She made her mark in contemporary music too, in works by Adams, Harbison, Saariaho and her husband Peter Lieberson (who talked to Carson Cooman in M&V in 2005 about composing 'Neruda Songs' for his wife). She sang in several performances of the new song cycle, written for her, in 2005.

Leaving a legacy of many recordings, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson will be remembered for her rich, dark voice, her musicianship, unconventional repertoire and integrity.

Posted: 7 July 2006

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