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Encyclopedia > Leontyne Price

Mary Violet Leontyne Price (born February 10, 1927) is an American opera singer (soprano). She was best known for her Verdi roles, above all Aida. An African American born in the segregated South, she rose to international fame in the 1950s and 60s, and became the first black "superstar" at the once-segregated Metropolitan Opera. For almost 40 years, she was one of America's most beloved and widely recorded sopranos. is the 41st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1927 (MCMXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Opera (disambiguation). ... This article is about the singing voice part. ... “Verdi” redirects here. ... AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that describes a common list of events that are very often undergone when a person is selling a product or service: A - Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer. ...


Price was a leading interpreter of the lirico spinto (Italian for "pushed lyric", or middleweight) roles of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, as well as of roles in several operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Her voice ranged from A flat below Middle C to the E above High C. (She said she sang high Fs "in the shower.") Spinto (It. ... “Verdi” redirects here. ... Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. ... “Mozart” redirects here. ... In Western music, the expression middle C refers to the note C or Do located exactly between the two staves of the grand staff, quoted as C4 in note-octave notation (also known as scientific pitch notation). ... The first C located above the treble cleff staff. ...


She is a quotable woman whose many bon mots have entered opera lore. Once, when discussing whether she would sing in Atlanta as Minnie, the cowgirl lead in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, the Met's general manager Rudolf Bing warned her she wouldn't be able to stay in the same segregated hotel with the company. She looked at him and said, "Don't worry, Mr. Bing, I'm sure you can find a place for me and the horse." La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, the lead section of this article may need to be expanded. ... Sir Rudolph Bing Sir Rudolph Bing (January 9, 1902 – September 2, 1997) was an Austrian-born operatic impresario. ...


After her retirement from the opera stage in 1985, she gave recitals for another dozen years. Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1985), numerous honorary degrees, and nineteen Grammy Awards, including a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989, more than any other classical singer. In 2005, American talk show host Oprah Winfrey honored Price and 24 other influential African-American women at a Legends Ball. The Presidential Medal of Freedom The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the two highest civilian awards in the United States and is bestowed by the President of the United States (the other award which is considered its equivalent is the Congressional Gold Medal, which is bestowed by an... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... The National Medal of Arts is an award and title bestowed on selected honorees by the National Endowment for the Arts. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording [1]. This award is distinct from the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which honors specific recordings rather than individuals, and... Oprah Winfrey, (born January 29, 1954) is a multiple-Emmy Award winning host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest rated talk show in television history. ...

Contents

Life and career

Roots

Leontyne Price was born in a black neighborhood of Laurel, Mississippi. Her father worked in a lumber mill and her mother was a midwife with a rich singing voice. They had waited 13 years for a child, and Leontyne became the focus of intense pride and love. She began piano lessons at three and a half with Mrs. H.V. McInnis, a teacher at the colored high school. Later her parents traded in the family phonograph as the down payment on an upright piano. At 10, she heard Marian Anderson sing in Jackson, a decisive influence. In her teen years, Leontyne accompanied the "second choir" at St. Paul's Methodist Church while singing and playing for the chorus at the black high school. Meanwhile, she often visited the home of Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm, an affluent white family in whose household Leontyne's aunt worked as a maid. Mrs. Chisholm encouraged the girl's early piano playing, and later noticed her extraordinary singing voice. Laurel is a city located in Jones County in Mississippi, a state of the United States of America. ... // Midwifery is the term traditionally used to describe the art of assisting a woman through childbirth. ... Tonearm redirects here. ...

The young Leontyne Price
The young Leontyne Price

Aiming for a teaching career, Price enrolled in the music education program at Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. Her success in the glee club led to solo assignments, and she completed her studies in voice. With the help of the Chisholms and the famous bass Paul Robeson, who sang a benefit concert, she enrolled as a scholarship student at the Juilliard School in New York City, where she studied with Florence Page Kimball. Leontyne Price, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1951 Dec. ... Leontyne Price, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1951 Dec. ... Central State University is a historically black university located in Wilberforce, Ohio. ... Wilberforce is an unincorporated community and census-designated place located in Greene County, Ohio. ... Paul LeRoy Bustill Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was a multi-lingual American actor, athlete, bass-baritone concert singer, writer, civil rights activist, fellow traveler, Spingarn Medal winner, and Stalin Peace Prize laureate. ... The Juilliard School is one of the worlds premiere performing arts conservatory located in New York City, it is informally identified as simply Juilliard, and trains in the fields of Dance, Drama, and Music. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ...


Her first important stage performances were as Mistress Ford in a 1952 student production in Verdi's Falstaff. Shortly thereafter, Virgil Thomson hired her for the revival of his all-black opera, Four Saints in Three Acts. After a two-week Broadway run, Saints went to Paris. Meanwhile, she had been cast as Bess in the Blevins Davis/Robert Breen revival of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and returned for the opening of the national tour at the Dallas State Fair, on June 9, 1952. The tour visited Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C, and then went on a tour of Europe, sponsored by the U.S. State Department. After stops in Vienna, Berlin, London and Paris, the company returned to New York when Broadway's Ziegfield Theater became available for a "surprise" run. For other uses, see Falstaff (disambiguation). ... Virgil Thomson, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1947 Virgil Thomson (November 25, 1896 - September 30, 1989) was an American composer from Missouri, whose rural background gave a sense of place in his compositions. ... Four Saints in Three Acts is an opera by American composer Virgil Thomson with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. ... “Gershwin” redirects here. ... The cast of Porgy and Bess during the Boston try-out prior to the Broadway opening. ...


Meanwhile, on the eve of the European tour, Price had married the man who had sung Porgy, the noted bass-baritone William Warfield, at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, with many in the cast in attendance. In his memoirs My Music and My Life, Warfield describes how their careers forced them apart. (They were legally separated in 1967, and divorced in 1973. They had no children.) The Abyssinian Baptist Church is among the most famous of the many churches in Harlem, New York City. ... For other uses, see Harlem (disambiguation). ...


At first, Price had aimed for a recital career, in the footsteps of contralto Marian Anderson, tenor Roland Hayes, Warfield, and other great black singers to whom American opera houses were closed. Granted leaves from "Porgy" to sing concerts, she championed new works by American composers, including Lou Harrison, John La Montaine, and Samuel Barber. Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993),[1] was an American contralto, perhaps best remembered for her performance on Easter Sunday, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. // Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... Lou Silver Harrison (May 14, 1917 - February 2, 2003) was an American composer. ... John La Montaine (born Mar 17, 1920) is a composer who won the 1959 Pulitzer prize for his Concerto for piano & orchestra, Op 9 (1958). ... Samuel Barber, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1944 Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of classical music ranging from orchestral, to opera, choral, and piano music. ...


Opera proved a stronger calling. The music-drama art form had fascinated her since Juilliard (a Met performance of Ljuba Welitsch as Salome was inspiring first exposure), and her success as Bess had proved she had the instincts and the voice for the big stage. The Met itself acknowledged this when it invited her to sing "Summertime" at a "Met Jamboree" fund-raiser on April 6, 1953, at the Ritz Theater on Broadway. Thus Price was the first African American to sing with the Met and for the Met, if not at the Met. That distinction went to Marian Anderson, who, on January 7, 1955, sang Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. The occasion was important, but the role was small, racially typecast (Ulrica is specified in the libretto as a Negress), and came late in Anderson's career. The question was, When would a young black soprano make a career in leading roles? Un ballo in maschera, or A Masked Ball, is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. ...


Emergence

In 1955, Price was engaged by NBC-TV Opera to sing in an English-language performance of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, under the NBC company's music director Peter Herman Adler. This was the first appearance by a black in televised opera, and several Southern NBC affiliates canceled the broadcast. A videotape at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City shows an attractive young soprano with a natural acting style, immaculate English enunciation, and easy, shining top notes. This article is about the television network. ... Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. ... For other uses, see Tosca (disambiguation). ...


Later that year, she auditioned at Carnegie Hall for the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was in New York on his first tour with the Berlin Philharmonic. Declaring her "an artist of the future," he invited her to sing Salome at La Scala. (She wisely declined.) In 1956 and 1957, Price made recital tours to India and Australia, sponsored by the U. S. State Department. Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street. ... Herbert von Karajan (April 5, 1908 – July 16, 1989) was an Austrian conductor. ... The Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic), is one of the worlds leading orchestras. ... Coin of Salome (daughter of Herodias), queen of Chalcis and Armenia Minor. ...


Her opera house debut was in San Francisco on September 20, 1957, as Madame Lidoine in the U.S. premiere of Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites. A few weeks later, she sang her first staged Aida. Meanwhile, von Karajan, who had become intendant of the Vienna Staatsoper, invited her to make her European debut with him as Aida on May 24, 1958. The next year, she returned to Vienna as Aida and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (IPA: ) (January 7, 1899 - January 30, 1963) was a French composer and a member of the French group Les Six. ... Dialogues of the Carmelites ( in French, Dialogues des Carmélites) is an opera in three acts by Francis Poulenc. ... Vienna State Opera (German: Wiener Staatsoper), located in Vienna, Austria, is one of the most important opera companies in Europe. ... Die Zauberflöte (en: The Magic Flute) is an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. ...


Over the next decade, Karajan conducted Price in some of her greatest performances, in the opera house (in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Verdi's Il Trovatore and Puccini's Tosca), the concert hall (Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Bruckner's Te Deum, and the Verdi Requiem [1]), and the recording studio, where they produced complete recordings of Tosca and Carmen, and a popular holiday music album A Christmas Offering. All are available on CD. Don Giovanni (K.527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punishd, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. ... Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Leone Emanuele Bardare and Salvatore Cammarano, based on the play El Trobador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. ... Missa Solemnis is Latin for solemn mass, and is a name which has been applied to a number of musical settings of the mass, especially particularly serious or large-scale ones. ... For other uses, see Tosca (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Carmen (disambiguation). ...


In the late 1950s, Price continued a string of triumphant European debuts, appearing as Aida at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Arena di Verona, both in 1958. On May 21, 1960, she sang at La Scala, again as Aida. (Mattiwilda Dobbs had been the first African American to sing there, in 1953, as Elvira in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri.) The Floral Hall of the Royal Opera House The Royal Opera House is a performing arts venue in London. ... Covent Garden is a district in London, located on the easternmost parts of the City of Westminster and the southwest corner of the London Borough of Camden. ... Verona Arena in June 1996 Inside of Verona Arena with scenery for an opera performance, summer 1994 The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy, which is famous for the opera performances given there. ... is the 141st day of the year (142nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Litaliana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto by Angelo Anelli, based on his earlier text set by Luigi Mosca. ...


Arrival

On January 27, 1961, Price arrived at the Met, in a co-debut with the Italian tenor Franco Corelli that ended in a 42-minute ovation. Most of the applause was for Price. The next day, New York Times critic Harold Schonberg wrote that Price's "voice, warm and luscious, has enough volume to fill the house with ease, and she has a good technique to back up the voice itself. She even took the trills as written, and nothing in the part as Verdi wrote it gave her the least bit of trouble. She moves well and is a competent actress. But no soprano makes a career of acting. Voice is what counts, and voice is what Miss Price has." He had less to say about Corelli, who, disappointed by his reception, said afterwards he would never sing with Price again. (He did.) is the 27th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Franco Corelli. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ... Harold Charles Schonberg (November 29, 1915 - July 26, 2003) was a American music critic and journalist, most notably for the New York Times between 1960 and 1980. ...

A national figure after her Met debut.

As Corelli may not have understood, there were political overtones to Price's debut. The Civil Rights movement was moving into a more active phase, and friends and movement sympathizers had traveled to New York from the South to cheer her on. Image File history File links LeontyneTime. ... Image File history File links LeontyneTime. ...


She was not the first African American to sing leading roles at the Met. Since Marian Anderson's debut in 1955, four other black singers had preceded her: Robert McFerrin, a baritone and father of popular singer Bobby McFerrin, sang Amonasro in Aida in 1955 and Rigoletto the next season; the soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs sang Gilda (with Leonard Warren) in 1956; that year, the dancer Geoffrey Holder performed in the Aida ballet sequence; in 1958, soprano Gloria Davy sang Aida, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and, the next year, Nedda in Pagliacci; also in 1959, the soprano Martina Arroyo sang the offstage Celestial Voice in Don Carlo. Robert McFerrin Sr. ... Bobby McFerrin Robert Bobby McFerrin Jr. ... AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that describes a common list of events that are very often undergone when a person is selling a product or service: A - Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer. ... The American opera singer Leonard Warren (April 21, 1911 - March 4, 1960) was a famous baritone who was associated for many years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. ... Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die. ... Gloria Davy (born 1931, Brooklyn) is an African-American soprano. ... Die Zauberflöte (en: The Magic Flute) is an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. ... Cover of the first edition of Pagliacci published by E. Sonzogno, Milan, 1892 Pagliacci (Clowns) is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. ... Martina Arroyo is a great African-American soprano, best known for her performances of the Italian spinto repertoire. ... Don Carlos is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. ...


Nevertheless, Price was the first African American to sing multiple leading roles to acclaim in the leading opera houses, at home and abroad. She was also the first to earn the Met's top fee. A 1964 memo revealed that she was paid $2,750 per performance, on a par with Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. Birgit Nilsson, who had Wagner roles more or less to herself, earned a little more, $3,000. And in October 1961, she became the first African American to open a Met season, a sign of prima donna status. Joan Sutherland as Haydns Euridice, Vienna 1967 Dame Joan Sutherland OM, AC, DBE (born November 7, 1926) is an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the bel canto revival of the 1950s and 1960s. ... Maria Callas in a casual moment, 1960s Maria Callas (Greek: Μαρία Κάλλας) (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977) was an American born, Greek dramatic coloratura soprano and perhaps the best-known opera singer of the post-World War II period. ... Renata Tebaldi (Pesaro, February 1, 1922 – San Marino, December 19, 2004) was an Italian lyric soprano, popular in the post-war period. ... Birgit Nilsson Birgit Nilsson (May 17, 1918 – December 25, 2005) was a great Swedish soprano who specialized in operatic and symphonic works. ...


Price's timing had been carefully judged. Bing in 1958 he had invited her to the sing a single Aida, but she had turned him down, according to Warfield, on the advice of Peter Herman Adler, director of NBC Opera. "Leontyne is to be a great artist," Adler said, according to Warfield. "When she makes her debut at the Met, she must do it as a lady, not a slave." As a result, Price arrived at the Met three years later, with several roles already tested, a large European reputation, and several recordings out for RCA Victor. She was put on the cover of Time magazine. After her arrival, many other African-American singers went on to make world careers, including Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, and Kathleen Battle. Peter Herman Adler (1899 - 1990) was a U.S. (Czechoslovakian-born) conductor. ... Sony BMG Music Entertainment is the result of a 50/50 joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment (part of Sony) and BMG Entertainment (part of Bertelsmann AG) completed in August 2004. ... Shirley Verrett as Eboli in Don Carlo The American opera singer Shirley Verrett (born May 31 circa 1931) is a mezzo-soprano who has enjoyed great fame since the late 1960s, much admired for her radiant voice and great versatility. ... Grace Bumbry The American opera singer Grace Bumbry (born 4 January 1937) was one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation -- although often a controversial singer. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Kathleen Battle (b. ...


Met career

Over the next 24 years, Price sang in 201 Met performances, in 16 different roles, in 21 seasons, at the house and on tour, including galas. (She was absent for three, 1970-71, 1977-78, 1980-81, and sang only in galas in 1972-73, 1979-80, and 1982-83.) In her ambitious first season, she sang five roles: the Trovatore Leonora, Aida, Liù in Turandot, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly. THe next season, she added two more, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West and Tosca. When a musicians' strike threatened to delay the opening of the 1961-2 season, Price appealed to President Kennedy, asking him to send Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg to mediate. The strike was settled, and the Met opened on time with Fanciulla. Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Leone Emanuele Bardare and Salvatore Cammarano, based on the play El Trobador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. ... For the opera by Ferruccio Busoni, see Turandot (Busoni). ... Don Giovanni (K.527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punishd, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. ... Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. ... La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco. ... The United States Secretary of Labor is the head of the United States Department of Labor. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


Midway in the second performance, however, she had another crisis: She lost her singing voice and chose to shout her lines through to the end of the scene, while tenor Richard Tucker comforted her. Soprano Dorothy Kirsten was called in to sing the third Act. The cause of the lapse seems to have been a virus--and overwork. Others said that Minnie was too heavy a part for Price's essentially lyric voice. Dorothy Kirsten The American soprano Dorothy Kirsten (July 6, 1910–November 18, 1992) was a well-known opera singer whose stage career spanned from the late 1930s to the mid-1970s. ...


From 1963-67, Price added six more roles at the Met (listed in order): Elvira in Verdi's Ernani, Pamina in Mozart's Zauberflöte, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera and Leonora in La Forza del Destino. She proved herself best suited to the "middle period" Verdi roles, with their high lines and postures of noble grief and supplication. They (and the Requiem) became her core repertoire. Ernani is an operatic dramma lirico in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Hernani by Victor Hugo. ... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was one of the most significant and influential of all composers of Western classical music. ... Die Zauberflöte, K. 620, (en: The Magic Flute) is an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. ... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was one of the most significant and influential of all composers of Western classical music. ... Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. ... “Tchaikovsky” redirects here. ... Eugene Onegin (Russian: Евгений Онегин, BGN/PCGN: Yevgeniy Onegin) is a novel in verse written by Aleksandr Pushkin. ... Un ballo in maschera, or A Masked Ball, is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. ... La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. ...


Antony and Cleopatra

Another career milestone came on September 16, 1966, when Price sang Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by American composer Samuel Barber, commissioned to open the Met's new house at Lincoln Center. Since the success of "Hermit Songs" in 1954, Price and Barber had remained friends and frequent collaborators. Barber had asked Price to sing the soprano solo in his Prayers of Kierkegaard, in its U.S. premiere in 1959. For the new opera, Barber said he tailored "every vowel" of Cleopatra's music to Price's voice, and often carried pages of fresh music to her home. Antony and Cleopatra is an opera in three acts by Samuel Barber. ... Samuel Barber, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1944 Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of classical music ranging from orchestral, to opera, choral, and piano music. ... The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ...


It was not a success. Many felt that director Franco Zeffirelli buried the music under a multitude of extras and animals, floating steel clouds, and a rotating Sphinx. Others blamed the technical challenges of moving into a new high-tech house. At the dress rehearsal, the expensive new turntable broke down, and on opening night Price was briefly trapped inside a pyramid. Others felt that Barber's score was weak, lacking dramatic focus and satisfying set pieces, other than Cleopatra's death scene, a certified winner. The opera ran for eight performances, and was never revived at the Met. However, Barber reworked it for successful productions at Juilliard and the Spoleto festival (Charleston, S.C.), and Price often sang a concert suite, prepared for her by Barber, of Cleopatra's arias. Franco Zeffirelli (born Gianfranco Corsi on February 12, 1923), is an Italian film director. ...


Late opera career

In the 1970s, Price cut back on opera appearances in favor of recitals and concerts. She explained she needed to recharge her batteries, to avoid overexposure, and hinted at frustration with the number (and quality) of new productions at the Met. After a new "Aida" planned for 1969 was postponed, she told Bing she wanted a break and did not appear the next season, and limited her Met engagements to no more than a handful each season. It is possible that she also needed time-off to adjust to the natural changes in her aging vocal instrument.


After 1970, she added three new roles: Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro (in San Francisco), Puccini's Manon Lescaut, and Ariadne in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos (in both San Francisco and New York). In January 1973 she sang Onward, Christian Soldiers at the state funeral of President Lyndon Johnson. In October, she sang her first Butterfly in a decade, and earned a half-hour ovation at the Met, and returned to acclaim that spring as Donna Anna. In 1976, she sang Aida, in the long delayed new Met production, with Marilyn Horne as Amneris, (directed by John Dexter). The next year, she renewed her partnership with von Karajan, singing the Brahms Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall, and then Il Trovatore in Salzburg and Vienna. Il tabarro (The Cloak) is an opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on Didier Golds La Houppelande. ... Cover of a recent translation of Manon Lescaut. ... Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne on Naxos) is an opera by Richard Strauss with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. ... Onward, Christian Soldiers is a 19th century English hymn. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... President is a title held by many leaders of organizations, companies, trade unions, universities, and countries. ... Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908–January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician. ... Marilyn Horne The American opera singer Marilyn Horne (born January 16, 1934) is a mezzo soprano who is particularly associated with the music of Rossini and Handel. ... John Dexter (born 2 August 1925 in Derby, England - died 23 March 1990 in London) was an English theatre, opera and film director. ... The Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic), is one of the worlds leading orchestras. ... Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street. ... Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Leone Emanuele Bardare and Salvatore Cammarano, based on the play El Trobador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. ...


In 1977, Price sang her last new role--Strauss' Ariadne--in San Francisco, to enthusiastic reviews. When she sang the role at the Met in 1979, she had a virus infection; she canceled the first and last of three scheduled performances, and the Times reviewer didn't have much good to say about the second.


In a late-career triumph in 1981, Price stepped in at the last minute for an ailing colleague (the Welsh soprano Margaret Price) to sing Aida in San Francisco, with Pavarotti as Radames. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herbert Caen reported that she had insisted on being paid $1 more than the tenor. which would have made her, for the moment, the highest paid opera singer in the world. The opera house denied this. Dame Margaret Price DBE (born April 13, 1941) is a Welsh soprano. ...


After revisiting several roles in San Francisco (Forza, Carmélites, Il Trovatore, and more Aidas), and the Met ("Forza" and "Il Trovatore"), Price gave her last operatic performance on January 3, 1985, in an Aida from the Met (her 41st there) that was nationally telecast on PBS. After taking "an act or two to warm up," wrote the "Times" chief critic Donal Henahan, she produced "pearls beyond price," notably the Act III aria, "O patria mia," which received a three-minute ovation, and the duet, "La tra la foreste vergine."


Another Times critic, John Rockwell, wrote more harshly on Dec. 21, after the first performance in the run: "The 'O patria mia' in the third act and the final duet had many of the opulent vocal characteristics that distinguished Miss Price in her prime. Unfortunately, they also had many of the self-indulgent vocal mannerisms, the stolid acting and the hoarse lower register with its rough linkage to the top that also marked her operatic prime." (Excerpts have been posted on YouTube.com.) John Rockwell (born 1940 in Washington D.C.) is an important music critic, editor, and dance critic. ...


Sunset

For the next dozen years, she concentrated on concerts and recitals. Her recital programs, chosen with her longtime accompanist David Garvey, combined French mélodies, German Lieder, Spirituals, an aria or two, and a group of American art songs, many of them written for her, by composers including Barber, Ned Rorem and Lee Hoiby. In addition to regular stops in the major American cities and university concert series, Price gave recitals in Vienna, Paris, and regularly at the Salzburg Festival (1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1984). Ned Rorem (born October 23, 1923) is a noted American composer and diarist. ... This article is about the capital of the Austrian state of Salzburg. ...


In her later years, Price's voice became darker and heavier, but the upper register held up remarkably well, and the conviction and joy in her singing spilled over the footlights to the sustained applause of sold-out houses. On November 19, 1997, when she was a few months shy of 71, she gave a recital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that turned out to be her last. is the 323rd day of the year (324th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the band, see 1997 (band). ... Nickname: Location in North Carolina Coordinates: , Country State Counties Orange, Durham, and Chatham Founded 1793 Government  - Mayor Kevin C. Foy Area  - City  19. ...


Price avoided the term African American, preferring to call herself an American, even a "chauvinistic American." She once summed up her philosophy thus: "If you are going to think black, think positive about it. Don't think down on it, or think it is something in your way. And this way, when you really do want to stretch out, and express how beautiful black is, everybody will hear you."


Price continued to teach master classes at Juilliard and other schools. In 1997, she wrote a children's book version of Aida, which became the basis for a hit Broadway musical by Elton John and Tim Rice in 2000. She lives in Greenwich Village in New York City. Aida is a musical drama in two acts based on Giuseppe Verdis Italian-language opera by the same name, which is in turn based on a story by Auguste Mariette. ... Sir Elton Hercules[1] John CBE[2] (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is a five-time Grammy and one-time Academy Award-winning English pop/rock singer, composer and pianist. ... Sir Timothy Miles Bindon Rice (born 10 November 1944) is an English Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Tony Award and Grammy Award winning lyricist, author, radio presenter and television gameshow panelist. ... The Washington Square Arch Greenwich Village (IPA pronunciation: ), also called simply the Village, is a largely residential area on the west side of downtown (southern) Manhattan in New York City named after Greenwich, London. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ...


In October 2001, at age 74, Price came out of retirement to sing in a memorial concert in Carnegie Hall for victims of the September 11 attacks. With James Levine at the piano, she sang a favorite spiritual, "This Little Light of Mine," followed by an unaccompanied "God Bless America," capping the anthem with a perfectly placed high B-flat.


Recordings

Leontyne Price's many commercial recordings include three complete sets of Il rovatore, two of Forza, two of Aïda, two of Verdi's Requiem, two of Tosca, and an Ernani, Ballo, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Cosí Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni (as Donna Elvira), Il Tabarro and (her final complete opera recording) Ariadne auf Naxos. She recorded highlights from "Porgy and Bess" (including music for the other female leads Clara and Serena) with Warfield, under Skitch Henderson. She also recorded five "Prima Donna" albums of selected arias that she never performed in staged productions, two collections of Strauss arias, recitals of French and German art songs, two albums of Spirituals, and a single crossover disc, Right as the Rain, with Andre Previn. Her Barber recordings, including the "Hermit Songs," scenes from Antony and Cleopatra, and "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," appeared on CD under "Leontyne Price Sings Barber." Perhaps her best operatic collection was her first, titled simply "Leontyne Price," and often referred to as the "blue album." It has been re-released often on CD.


In 1996, to honor her 70th birthday, RCA-BMG brought out a deluxe 11-CD box of selections from her recordings, with an accompanying book, titled "The Essential Leontyne Price." Copies are hard to find; one was recently sold on EBay for $650. Meanwhile, historical recordings occasionally appear. In 2002, RCA found a tape of her 1965 Carnegie Hall recital debut and released it in its "Rediscovered" series. In 2005, Bridge Records released her 1954 Library of Congress recital, including the "Hermit Songs," and Henri Sauguet's song-cycle "La Voyante," and songs by Poulenc.


Reputation

In his 1974 history of vocal recordings, "The Grand Tradition," the British critic J.B. Steane writes that "one might conclude from recordings that [Price] is the best interpreter of Verdi of the [20th] century." In her autobiography, the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya wrote that a Price performance of Tosca at the Vienna State Opera "left me with the strongest impression I have ever gotten from opera." In his 1983 autobiography, Plácido Domingo writes, "The power and sensuousness of Leontyne's voice were phenomenal--the most beautiful Verdi soprano I have ever heard." Galina Vishnevskaya with Mstislav Rostropovich The Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya (Гали́на Па́вловна Вишне́вская) (born 25 October 1926) is well-known opera singer and recitalist. ... Plácido Domingo José Plácido Domingo Embil KBE (born January 21, 1941)[1] better known as Plácido Domingo, is a world-renowned operatic tenor. ...


Miles Davis, in his self-titled autobiography, writes of Price, "I have always been one of her fans because in my opinion she is the greatest female singer ever, the greatest opera singer ever. She could hit anything with her voice. Leontyne's so good it's scary. Plus, she can play piano and sing and speak in all those languages. Man, I love her as an artist. I love the way she sings Tosca. I wore out her recording of that, wore out two sets....I used to wonder how she would have sounded if she had sung jazz. She should be an inspiration for every musician, black or white. I know she is to me." [page 368]


She has also had her critics. Peter G. Davis writes in his book, "The American Opera Singer," that Price had "a fabulous vocal gift that went largely unfulfilled," noting her reluctance to try new roles, criticizing her Tosca for its lack of a "working chest register," and her late Aidas for a "swooping" vocal line. Others have criticized her stiff technique in florid music, and her occasional mannerisms.


In mid-career, her voice became darker and her vocal style stiffer, disrupted by occasional outbreaks of self-indulgent emphasis, including scooping or swooping up to high notes. Von Karajan took her to task for these in rehearsals in 1977 for "Il Trovatore," as Price herself related in an interview in Diva, by Helena Matheopoulos. As later recordings and appearances show, she took his advice to heart and sang with a cleaner line.


Her acting, too, varied over a long career. Her Bess was praised for its fire and sensuality and her early NBC productions show her moving naturally on camera. Later, she became a stiff, even at times an awkward singer-actress. She herself once said, "I don't expect to win any Academy Awards." In a 1982 "Live from the Met" TV broadcast of "Forza," available on DVD--the only film of Price in a complete opera --she carries herself with compelling dignity.


In March 2007, BBC Music magazine published a list of the "20 All-time Best Sopranos" based on a poll of 21 British music critics and BBC presenters. Leontyne Price placed fourth, after, in order, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Victoria de los Angeles. Naturally, the list was widely criticized. Maria Callas in a casual moment, 1960s Maria Callas (Greek: Μαρία Κάλλας) (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977) was an American born, Greek dramatic coloratura soprano and perhaps the best-known opera singer of the post-World War II period. ... Joan Sutherland as Haydns Euridice, Vienna 1967 Dame Joan Sutherland OM, AC, DBE (born November 7, 1926) is an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the bel canto revival of the 1950s and 1960s. ... The Catalan singer Victoria de los Ángeles (November 1, 1923 – January 15, 2005) was a well-known soprano whose career spanned the early 1940s to the mid 1970s. ...


Resources

BOOKS

  • Sir Rudolf Bing, 5,000 Nights at the Opera: The Memoirs of Sir Rudolf Bing (Doubleday, 1972).
  • Peter G. Davis, The American Opera Singer: The Lives and Adventures of America's Great Singers in Opera and Concert from 1825 to the Present (Anchor, 1999).
  • Plácido Domingo, My First Forty Years (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983).
  • Peter G. Davis, The American Opera Singer (Doubleday, 1997).
  • Barbara B. Heyman, Samuel Barber, The Composer and His Music (Oxford University Press, 1992).
  • Helena Matheopolous, Diva: Sopranos and Mezzo-sopranos Discuss Their Art (Northeastern University Press, 1992).
  • Luciano Pavarotti with William Wright, Pavarotti: My Own Story (Doubleday, 1981).
  • Stephen Rubin, The New Met (MacMillan, 1974).
  • Winthrop Sargeant, Divas (Coward, McCann, Geohegan, 1973).
  • J.B. Steane, The Grand Tradition: Seventy Years of Singing on Record (Timber Press, 1993).
  • Robert Vaughan, Herbert von Karajan (W.W. Norton & Company, 1986).
  • Galina Vishneyskaya, Galina, A Russian Story (Harvest/HBJ Book, 1985).
  • William Warfield, with Alton Miller, William Warfield: My Music and My Life (Sagamore Publishing, 1991).

ARTICLES

  • "From Collard Greens to Caviar: Leontyne Price Reminisces," Opera News, July and August 1985.
  • "Reunion: Justino Diaz," by Eric Myers, Opera News, March 2006, Vol. 70, No. 9
  • "Time After Time," Stephen Blier reviews "The Essential Leontyne Price" CD collection, Opera News, October 1996
  • "The Garbo of Opera," by David Perkins, News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), October 5, 1986
  • "Leontyne Price Ill, To Rest for Month," New York Times, December 23, 1961
  • "Where Atlanta's 'Big Mules' Relax," Time, Jan. 10 1977 (on 1964 "Don Giovanni" controversy)

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Leontyne Price (897 words)
Soprano Leontyne Price was born Mary Violet Leontine Price in Laurel, Mississippi, on February 10, 1927, the daughter of James and Katherine Price.
Leontyne Price scored a major success when, in 1952, she appeared as Bess in Porgy and Bess in Dallas, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. In the production, Porgy was sung by William Warfield.
Price opened the 1969-70 season at the Metropolitan Opera as Aïda and, in 1974, she opened the San Francisco opera season in her role debut as Manon in Manon Lescaut.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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