Paying Tribute to Leontyne Price

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Soprano Leontyne Price posing with costume during the rehearsal of Verdi's 'Aida' at the Scala Theatre of Milan in April 1963. Soprano Leontyne Price posing with costume during the rehearsal of Verdi's 'Aida' at the Scala Theatre of Milan in April 1963. (Walter Mori/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Host Debbie Voigt continues to honor a "Diva of the Day" with Leontyne Price, the first internationally acclaimed, African-American opera star. Price came to prominence during the civil rights era and felt that everything she did was measured against her race. In the end, says Voigt, Price’s magnificent voice leveled the playing field. 

This week hear Price’s recordings of Richard Strauss’s first opera, Guntram; her signature role in Aida; and one of her favorite encores, “Doretta’s Dream” from La rondine. Watch a video playlist of some priceless Price performances.

Also on the program is "The Tale of Two Wagnerians," a comparative performance of one of Walther’s arias in Die Meistersinger by Lauritz Melchior and Jonas Kaufmann. Voigt also reveals the important lesson she learned from soprano Carol Vaness and why Shirley Verrett was so moved by Roberto Begnini’s film, "Life is Beautiful."

Program playlist:

Barber of Seville: "Una voce poco fa"
Gioacchino Rossini
Diana Damrau, soprano
Dan Ettinger, conductor
Munich Radio Orchestra

Guntram: "Fass’ ich sie bang"
Richard Strauss
Leontyne Price, soprano
Erich Leinsdorf, conductor
Boston Symphony Orchestra

Der Freischutz: "Wie? Was? Entsetzen! Dort in der Schreckensschlucht?"
Carl Maria Von Weber
Edith Mathis, soprano; Gundula Janowitz, soprano; Peter Schreier, tenor
Carlos Kleiber, conductor
Staatskapelle Dresden

Ruslan and Ludmilla: "Farlaf's Rondo"
Mikhail Glinka
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Constantine Orbelian, conductor
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra

Aida: "O patria mia"
Giuseppe Verdi
Leontyne Price, soprano
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Rome Opera Orchestra

The Tales of Hoffman: "Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour"
Jacques Offenbach
Montserrat Caballe, soprano; Shirley Verrett, mezzo
Anton Guadagno, conductor
New Philharmonia Orchestra

Idomeneo, K. 366:  "D'Oreste, d'Ajace"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Carol Vaness, soprano
Leopold Hager, conductor
Munich Radio Orchestra

Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg: "Am stillen Herd"
Richard Wagner
Lauritz Melchior, tenor
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
The Philadelphia Orchestra

Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg: "Am stillen Herd"
Richard Wagner
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Berlin German Opera Orchestra

La Rondine: "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta"
Giacomo Puccini
Leontyne Price, soprano
James Levine, conductor
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

"Ride On, King Jesus"
Hall Johnson
Leontyne Price, soprano
Leonard de Paur, conductor
Uncredited Chorus; Uncredited Orchestra

Comments [1]

Alan S. from NJ

Listening to and watching the 11 excerpts of the Leontyne Price playlist is evidence that Ms. Price possessed one of the greatest voices of her time or any generation for that matter. Whether it was singing the music of Puccini, Mozart, Strauss and especially Verdi, I can think of no other soprano who consistently sang so brilliantly. Even in the later years of her career, Leontyne Price never failed to thrill her audiences with her pure soaring sound as heard in her farewell performance of "Aida" at The Metropolitan Opera. Listening to Ms. Price singing "O Patria Mia" in that particular televised performance will be, for me, one of the most memorable opera experiences I have ever been privileged to witness. Anything like Leontyne Price's pure sound, especially when singing the music of Verdi, I doubt, will ever be heard again. Brava, Brava, Leontyne!

Jan. 10 2015 01:37 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.