A friend with many more friends than me is reporting that Lorraine Hunt Lieberson has died of metastatic liver cancer.
I saw her only once, as Ottavia in two performances of "L'incoronazione di Poppea" in 1998. The production was one of the glories of the the Mansouri years, with a fabulous cast that included David Daniels, Ruxandra Donose, and Robert Lloyd.
LHL made her entry while laying on a moving sofa. Even after it stopped, and before she started to move, let alone sing, you could not keep your eyes off her, she so dominated the stage. Her last entry, for "Addio, Roma," was a slow, slow walk downstage, and again, she drew the eye in a way I've seen only from her.
During the opera, she looked 10 feet tall and might as well have been the most beautiful woman in the world. When I went to get autographs, I found she was a couple of inches shorter than me and, while pretty enough, someone you'd never give a second glance on the street. She seemed a bit shy, and very modest; every inch a creature of the stage without an inch of diva ego.
I'm lucky to have seen her, and deeply sorry it was just that once.
Update: Bloomberg publishes the first obituary: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Singer of Bach, Handel, Dies at 52
Update, July 7: It seems as though everyone in the blogosphere who knew her work has commented on her passing. I'm not going to try to list them all; The Standing Room and Oboeinsight are both collecting links to blog postings and news articles about LHL. And be sure to catch Joshua Kosman's appreciation in today's Chronicle.
I have plenty of cat photos available, but no catblogging this week.
Update, July 17: Anthony Tommasini reports that at Friday's BSO concert, James Levine opened with “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen," from the Brahms Requiem, in memory of LHL.