Thank you for the many responses I received ... although interestingly
enough, they all were private. Y'all must have sensed that this was a
food fight waiting to happen. And I am NOT trying to start one
(although opinions being as impassioned as they are on this -- and
all -- lists ... I can see the peas flying).
Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson went from being a local Boston mezzo to an
artist of wide popularity. Why, I am yet to figure out, even after repeated
listenings. Her voice? Her technique? I know, I know, she has
wonderful presence. But what people HEAR in her is obviously
something I am not hearing. She is one of the most beloved singers
before the public today. To my ear, Hunt-Lieberson is still a Boston
mezzo – an Early Music mezzo of questionable technique.
Of mezzo voices of a similar (some of you said SMALLER) size,
Jennifer Larmore, though much less “beloved” in certain circles,
sounds to my ear much more like a singer. And unlike
Hunt-Lieberson, who honed her skills in a church in Boston, Larmore
honed her skills in EUROPE! It shows. What also shows is
Larmore’s raw musical talent and intelligence, making the Susan
Grahams of the world seem much less interesting all of a sudden.
In fact, I’m going to make that leap and state that Jennifer Larmore is
someone who gives me hope for the future. And even if she didn’t, it
doesn’t matter, because she has a fine career, and it promises to last
for some time.
But here’s where the line between the voice and the palcoscenico
become blurred. They say Hunt-Lieberson has a wonderful stage
presence, while Larmore, one of you claimed, has “no stage presence
at all.” However, listening to the discs, without the distraction of
costumes and scenery, Larmore is clearly superior, vocally and
technically. Go figure. As with pipe organ audiences, people hear
with their eyes. A mediocre organ behind a beautiful façade will
always attract an audience.
For once, the Metropolitan seems to agree with my taste. In that
house, as of this writing, Hunt-Lieberson has sung only 17
performances of two roles. Larmore has sung 59 performances of
But then again, the Early Music people have a different viewpoint. In a
very strange interview in the September, 2002, issue of Gramophone,
famous countertenor David Daniels said,
"I learned so much through working so extensively as I did with
Lorraine Hunt. Here’s a person whose whole body is involved in the
singing, the acting, the character and the emotion and she gives the
most natural, honest performances you’ll ever see."
Relatively sane, so far. But then he says,
"There’s more emotion [in Handel] there than you’d encounter in a
Verdi opera [SIC!!!], because in Handel’s operas there’s a power of
emotion that can be put into the context of right now and she does just
that. It’s incredible."
No. Incredible is the stupidity of a counter-tenor whose brain is stuck
in 1759. Verdi less emotional than Handel? The word "stupidity" has
to be used, because a weaker word just wouldn't be appropriate.
Was denkt ihr? I can't make heads or tails out of any of this.
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