Happy 90s, Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price will be 90 this week, on February 10.

 

 

Selected to sing at a 1953 Met fund-raiser, she had to wait eight years before she won a stage role in New York. By this time she had sung in Vienna with Herbert von Karajan and made debuts at Covent Garden, Salzburg, Verona and La Scala, where she was the first Afro-American to take the stage.

She was a trailblazer, an icon and an ambassador for art. In 1966, she opened the new Metropolitan Opera as Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra by her close friend Samuel Barber. In all, she sang 201 times at the Met, blowing away the last vestiges of discrimination.

Happy birthday, Miss Price.


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  • Some of her recordings of complete operas:

    Barber, Antony and Cleopatra,
    Schippers/Price-L/Elias/Thomas-Js/Díaz/Flagello,
    1966, live in New York, Premiere Italy

    Bizet, Carmen,
    Karajan/Freni/Price-L/Corelli/Merrill,
    1963, RCA

    Gershwin, Porgy and Bess,
    Smallens/Price-L/Colbert/Thigpen/Calloway/McCurry/Warfield,
    1952, live in Berlin, Audite

    Mozart, Così fan tutte,
    Leinsdorf/Price-L/Troyanos/Raskin/Shirley/Milnes/Flagello,
    1967, RCA

    Mozart, Don Giovanni,
    Leinsdorf/Nilsson/Price-L/Ratti/Valletti/Corena/Siepi,
    1959, RCA

    Mozart, Don Giovanni,
    Karajan/Price-L/Schwarzkopf/Sciutti/Valletti/Berry/Wächter,
    1960, live in Salzburg, HRE

    Mozart, Don Giovanni,
    Karajan/Price-L/Güden/Sciutti/Wunderlich/Berry/Wächter,
    1963, live in Vienna, Gala

    Mozart, Don Giovanni,
    Levine/Price-L/Zylis-Gara/Stratas/Burrows/Berry/Milnes,
    1974, live in New York, Bensar

    Puccini, Madama Butterfly,
    Adler-KH/Price-L/Miller-Mi/Kónya/Ruzdiak,
    1961, live in San Francisco, Premiere Italy

    Puccini, Madama Butterfly,
    Leinsdorf/Price-L/Elias/Tucker/Maero,
    1962, RCA

    Puccini, tabarro, Il,
    Leinsdorf/Price-L/Domingo/Milnes,
    1971, RCA

    Puccini, tabarro, Il,
    Sanzogno/Price-L/Bottion/Bacquier,
    1971, live in San Francisco, Omega

    Puccini, Tosca,
    Adler-PH/Price-L/Poleri/Wheeler,
    1955, Legato

    Puccini, Tosca,
    Adler-K/Price-L/Corelli/MacNeil,
    1962, live in New York, Sony

    Puccini, Tosca,
    Karajan/Price-L/di Stefano/Taddei,
    1962, RCA

    Puccini, Tosca,
    Mehta/Price-L/Domingo/Milnes,
    1973, RCA

    Puccini, Turandot,
    Molinari-Pradelli/Price-L/Nilsson/di Stefano,
    1961, live in Vienna, Orfeo

    Strauss-R, Ariadne auf Naxos,
    Solti/Price-L/Gruberová/Troyanos/Kollo,
    1977, Decca

    Tchaikovsky, Evgeny Onegin,
    Schippers/Price-L/Elias/Thomas-Js/Dooley/Tozzi,
    1964, live in New York, in English, Feb 29, Fiori

    Verdi, Aida,
    Solti/Price-L/Gorr/Vickers/Merrill/Tozzi,
    1961, RCA

    Verdi, Aida,
    Solti/Price-L/Gorr/Bergonzi/Sereni/Siepi,
    1963, live in New York, Myto

    Verdi, Aida,
    Karajan/Price-L/Simionato/Labò/Bastianini/Zaccaria,
    1964, live in Vienna, House of Opera

    Verdi, Aida,
    Schippers/Price-L/Bumbry/Bergonzi/Merrill/Hines,
    1967, live in New York, Sony

    Verdi, Aida,
    Schippers/Price-L/Rankin/Corelli/MacNeil/Macurdy,
    1967, live in Cleveland, Omega

    Verdi, Aida,
    Leinsdorf/Price-L/Bumbry/Domingo/Milnes/Raimondi,
    1970, RCA

    Verdi, Aida,
    Levine/Price-L/Horne/Domingo/MacNeil/Giaiotti,
    1976, live in New York, Bensar

    Verdi, Aida,
    García Navarro/Price-L/Toczyska/Pavarotti/Estes/Furlanetto-F,
    1981, live in San Francisco, HRE

    Verdi, Aida,
    Levine/Price-L/Cossotto/McCracken/Estes/Macurdy,
    1985, live in New York, Opera Lovers

    Verdi, ballo in maschera, Un,
    Leinsdorf/Price-L/Grist/Verrett/Bergonzi/Merrill,
    1966, RCA

    Verdi, ballo in maschera, Un,
    Molinari-Pradelli/Price-L/Peters-R/Dunn-M/Bergonzi/Merrill,
    1966, live in New York, Myto

    Verdi, ballo in maschera, Un,
    Votto/Price-L/Meneguzzer/Lazzarini/Bergonzi/Glossop,
    1968, live in Milan, April 18

    Verdi, Ernani,
    Schippers/Price-L/Bergonzi/MacNeil/Tozzi,
    1962, live in New York, Sony

    Verdi, Ernani,
    Schippers/Price-L/Corelli/Sereni/Siepi,
    1965, live in New York, Memories

    Verdi, Ernani,
    Schippers/Price-L/Bergonzi/Sereni/Flagello,
    1967, RCA

    Verdi, forza del destino, La,
    Schippers/Price-L/Verrett/Tucker/Merrill/Tozzi,
    1964, RCA

    Verdi, forza del destino, La,
    Molinari-Pradelli/Price-L/Pearl/Corelli/Merrill/Hines,
    1968, live in New York, Myto

    Verdi, forza del destino, La,
    Veltri/Price-L/Forst/Corelli/Sereni/Flagello,
    1972, live in New York, Mixcloud

    Verdi, forza del destino, La,
    Levine/Price-L/Cossotto/Domingo/Milnes/Giaiotti,
    1976, RCA

    Verdi, forza del destino, La,
    Levine/Price-L/Jones-I/Giacomini/Nucci/Giaiotti,
    1984, V, New York, Pioneer

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Basile/Price-L/Elias/Tucker/Warren,
    1959, RCA

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Cleva/Price-L/Dalis/Corelli/Sereni,
    1961, live in New York, Sony

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Karajan/Price-L/Simionato/Corelli/Bastianini,
    1962, live in Salzburg, DG

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Karajan/Price-L/Simionato/McCracken/Bastianini,
    1963, live in Salzburg, Omega

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    de Fabritiis/Price-L/Cossotto/Bergonzi/Cappuccilli,
    1969, live in Buenos Aires, Myto

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Mehta/Price-L/Cossotto/Domingo/Milnes,
    1969, RCA

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Karajan/Price-L/Cossotto/Bonisolli/Cappuccilli,
    1977, live in Salzburg, Open Reel Tape

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Karajan/Price-L/Ludwig/Pavarotti/Cappuccilli,
    1977, live in Vienna, Serenissima

    Verdi, trovatore, Il,
    Karajan/Price-L/Obraztsova/Bonisolli/Cappuccilli,
    1977, EMI

  • I particularly loved her “Prima Donna” series of recordings, where she sang arias that were well out of her normal fach: Caro nome, In questa reggia, Isoldes Liebestod, etc. Here’s a link to the “highlights” CD – http://tinyurl.com/gm9kh3w )

    So many glimpses of “…and if I’d wanted to sing this repertoire, it would have sounded like this.” Could have been one of the great Mozart/Strauss singers, for instance, if she’d chosen that route.

  • When i met Léontine, at Tower Record for an in-store where i was managing the second floor on 66th Street, she was the nicest person and answered my french in such eloquence, she gave me that autograph, dedicated to my daughter Charlotte on a CD i still listen and sort of push down the throat of my very young daughter at the time…!!!!
    You go Léontine! we love you.

  • i was gonna leave a picture on that CD she autographed, but i guess that’s not possible!!
    too bad!
    Cheerio

  • I saw her in a recital in Vancouver in 1976 (a month after Pavarotti). What a year. Her 1964 Christmas record with Karajan is sublime for its genre. A traditional listening here year after year. I event caught myself enjoying it in July!!!!!!
    Joyeux anniversaire Madame.

  • Price’s “Awakening Scene” from Strauss’ “Die Frau Ohne Schatten”, recorded with Leinsdorf on an RCA album of Strauss (including “Four Last Songs”), will always be my “go to” for that scene when listening to any other recording of the complete opera. Price is thrilling, the terror experienced by the Empress is palpable, and Leinsdorf and the orchestra’s low brass capture the fearsome power of Keikobad in a way that makes me always wish they had recorded the opera complete!

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