14 April 2007

Today's Saturday radio broadcast from the Met of Turandot features, among tattered sounds, a perfectly spun Liu of Met veteran Hei-Kyung Hong. Over the years, I've seen her Liu many times. In this, she has never failed to move. Her crystalline lyric voice, still showing little sign of age, is the kind of bright, simple sound that Puccini wrote this pathetic role for. With Hong, the breathtaking crescendos that end Liu's arias become highlights of the performance.

Sadly, she may be among the sopranos on Peter Gelb's chopping block. She is not engaged for anything next season, and she's uncertain about future engagements with her home company. This after a season of successful performances of Violetta, Liu, and Eva (from Die Meistersinger). She's neither fat nor stand-and-deliverish: it's inexplicable. This coming Thursday, April 19, she sings Liu for the last time this season. Fearing that it's also possibly her unintended farewell to the Met stage, her fans are planning a confetti shower for her curtain call, to thank her for more than 300 magical performances at the Met, beginning 23 years ago in 1984. She will be missed.