Wednesday, August 24, 2016
This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson from breast cancer, and “Trove Thursday” salutes this remarkable artist by offering one of her final performances—her haunting Waldtaube in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder conducted by James Levine, also featuring Karita Mattila and Johan Botha as Tove and Waldemar. Having devoured the ecstatic reviews for Peter Sellars’s production of Handel’s Orlando in Boston, I had to be at the 1985 PepisCo Summerfare for his new Giulio Cesare. It proved to be one of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen in an opera house partly because it introduced me to the then-unknown Hunt Lieberson whom I would be privileged to see perform more than a dozen times after that. People tend to toss around the term “relevation” rather easily, but her heartrendingly intense Sesto (who in that rare instance was allowed all five of his arias) forever changed my view of that character. The now out-of-print DVD of that Cesare is worth hunting down, if only for Hunt Lieberson’s devastating portrayal. Sellers returned to Summerfare two years later to produce his “Spanish Harlem” Don Giovanni which wasn’t particularly well received, so two years later he revised it with Hunt Lieberson of the original cast returning with her “Madonna-esque” Donna Elvira. Both seasons the top of the voice sounded tight and pressured so it was no surprise that soon she began billing herself as a mezzo. The mid-1990s brought her three indelible collaborations with William Christie—with Les Arts Florissants in Charpentier’s Médée and Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie and in Handel’s Theodora at the Glyndebourne Festival. Thanks to visits by LAF to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I saw her ferocious Médée and tortured Phèdre (both also happily preseved on Erato CDs), but I know Sellars’s production of Handel’s oratorio only from the video, a most essential souvenir of Hunt Lieberson’s art. Soon it seemed like everyone was finally talking about Hunt Lieberson as two major debuts finally brought her to opera in Manhattan—her delightfully truculent yet divinely sung Serse at City Opera and her Myrtle Wilson in the world premiere of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby at the Met (which I missed). Yet she wasn’t quite a star—I remember rows of empty seats at Carnegie Hall for an Orchestra of St. Luke’s concert where she gorgeously sang arias from Theodora and Ariodante although “Doppe notte” was rather labored. Her Mozart Sesto at City Opera was wonderfully moving as were her staged pair of Bach cantatas in yet another collaboration with Sellars. Although I admire her and think she would have made a fine Didon, I am forever grateful to Olga Borodina for having gotten pregnant and canceled her run of Les Troyens at the Met in 2003. I attended two of Hunt Lieberson’s four epic performances as her replacement (one just after a blizzard)—the last times I saw her—and they remain among my most treasured Met memories. Hunt Lieberson also sang Berlioz’s Béatrice with the Boston Lyric Opera a decade earlier—what I wouldn’t give for a pirate recording of that! Over the final decade of her life as the voice got bigger and heavier, Hunt Lieberson did more and more recitals and orchestral concerts in which she often sang Mahler (which suited her admirably) as well as music written for her by her husband Peter Lieberson. Since her death, a number of these live performances have found their way onto CD to supplement her studio recordings, many made under conductor Nicholas McGegan including a 1995 Ariodante which others admire more than I. One unmissable live disk includes excerpts from her sole performance of Handel’s Hercules (including her role of Dejanira complete). Hunt Lieberson was announced by the Met to star in May 2007 in its new Mark Morris production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice; she would have been magnificent but it was not to be. This series of Gurrelieder performances in Boston occurred just five months before her death and were likely her only chances to sing the Wood-Dove’s grave monologue which suits her so admirably. A month later, she made her final performances—with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in, appropriately, the Mahler 2nd Symphony—the “Resurrection.” Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder Symphony Hall, Boston February 2006 Tove: Karita Mattila Wood-dove: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Waldemar: Johan Botha Klaus-Narr: Paul Groves Peasant: Albert Dohmen Speaker: Waldemar Kmentt Tanglewood Festival Chorus Boston Symphony Orchestra Conductor: James Levine “Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory. In addition, Gurrelieder, last week’s Béatrice et Bénédict with Joyce DiDonato and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.
“A set of the first four editions of William Shakespeare’s plays – dubbed the ‘Holy Grail of publishing’ by Christie’s auction house – sold Wednesday for almost 2.5 million pounds ($3.68 million). [The volumes]… were sold as individual lots but all bought by a private American collector.”
The deepest power of classical music I got chills at the end of The Rhinegold (as they called it at the Washington National Opera Ring, though they did the cycle in German). And I cried at the end of The Valkyrie. That’s one way to measure the power of this production, … read more AJBlog: Sandow Published 2016-05-12 If Antony Tudor Wrote a Novel Girl Through Glass, Sari Wilson’s debut novel about the 1970s New York ballet world, focuses on the imprint of George Balanchine on the young dancers in the city. … read more AJBlog: Fresh Pencil Published 2016-05-12 Arhoolie Records (a dozen faves) to Smithsonian Excellent news on the archival recordings front: Arhoolie Records, the 55-year old treasury of American folk and vernacular musics, has been acquired by … read more AJBlog: Jazz Beyond Jazz Published 2016-05-12 Are We Still Awake? My Storify on Christie’s Impressionist/Modern Snooze I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing severe auction fatigue, which is not nearly as rewarding as museum fatigue. So let’s cut to the chase and get right to my Storify account … read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-05-12 [ssba_hide]
“Contemporary Confidence” Game: Brett Gorvy Tells How Christie’s Got it Done The headline for my last post was: Christie’s Gets It Done. At the press preview for last night’s confidence-restoring contemporary sale, Brett Gorvy, Christie’s chairman of Post-War and Contemporary art, told me how he had … read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-05-11 Competition Lives! My Storify on Sotheby’s Creditable Contemporary Sale After its rocky night Monday, it looked like Sotheby’s could become a distant also-ran in the art-auction sweepstakes. But tonight, with a little help from some late-breaking irrevocable bids (likely accompanied by lowered reserves), … read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-05-11 Snapshot: Louis Armstrong performs “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” Louis Armstrong and His All Stars perform “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” in concert in 1962. … read more AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2016-05-11 [ssba_hide]
New vs. Existing: A Time for Every Patron As a chief marketing officer, consultant and now managing director, I’ve participated in my fair share of marketing committee meetings. One of the most hotly debated topics is whether to focus resources on developing new audiences or on increasing loyalty … read more AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2016-05-10 Christie’s Gets It Done: My Storify on Tonight’s Solid Contemporary Sale Christie’s tonight pulled the art market out of its Sotheby’s-induced funk with a Post-War/Contemporary sale that hummed along nicely from beginning to end, with one manic moment … read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-05-10 Satin and Furs and Love of Dancing New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala celebrates with new ballets and a recent masterwork. … read more AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2016-05-10 [ssba_hide]
Kurt Weill’s “Note Concerning Jazz” # # In Berlin 1929 Kurt Weil wrote a “Note Concerning Jazz” which today reads as both a prediction and a warning.# Weill wrote in part: # “Today it appears to me… … read more AJBlog: Unanswered Question Published 2016-05-08 Weekend Extra: Bing Crosby And John Coltrane Bing Crosby introduced “Love Thy Neighbor” in a scene with Ethel Merman and Leon Errol when Crosby co-starred with Carol Lombard (both pictured left) in the 1934 motion picture We’re Not Dressing. Crosby followed up… … read more AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2016-05-08 Carla Bley’s New Triumph Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow, Andando el Tiempo (ECM) As Carla Bley looks forward to her 80th birthday on May 11, ECM is releasing one of the most absorbing albums of her career. From… … read more AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2016-05-06 Three Centennial Parties for Harold Norse Harold Norse, the late poet and memoirist, desperately wanted his name in lights. Now he has it — thanks to Todd Swindell. Swindell’s assiduous effort to memorialize him goes beyond dedicated. He has not… … read more AJBlog: Straight|Up Published 2016-05-06 Contraction Action: Sotheby’s & Christie’s Confront New Market Reality (plus Koons &… The operative words for the art market this season are “correction” and “contraction.” So Sotheby’s can be forgiven for seeking comfort in nostalgia, via this Monday tweet , recalling a past triumph: #OnThisDay in 2012,… … read more AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-05-06 [ssba_hide]