Born on 1 March 1954 as Lorraine Hunt to musical parents in San Francisco, the much-loved American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson 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 mezzo 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. She sang in several performances of the new song cycle, written for her, in 2005.
Lieberson has been called 'the greatest living opera singer', 'astonishing' and 'the most potent mezzo since Callas'.
Following a long battle with cancer, she died on 3 July 2006, aged fifty-two, at home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Leaving a legacy of many recordings, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson will be remembered for her rich, dark voice, her musicianship, unconventional repertoire and integrity.
Ensemble. Thought-provoking - John Adams' 'Dr Atomic' in London, reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Light and Sprightly - Handel's 'Theodora', reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. In Memory - Kelly Ferjutz remembers Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's visit to Cleveland
Three Questions before the First Night - Carson Cooman talks to Peter Lieberson about the forthcoming performances of 'Neruda Songs'