50 Facts About Leontyne Price


Leontyne Price regularly appeared at the world's major opera houses, the Royal Opera House, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and La Scala, the last at which she was the first African American to sing a leading role.

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Leontyne Price was particularly renowned for her performances of the title role in Verdi's Aida.

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Leontyne Price then performed at the world's major opera houses with Aida, before a successful debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1961 as Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore.

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Leontyne Price made her farewell opera performance at the Met in 1985 in Aida.

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Leontyne Price was noted for her roles in operas by Mozart and Puccini as well as Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare and Poppea in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea.

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Leontyne Price showed a natural affinity for music at an early age and began piano lessons at the age of three and a half with the local pianist Hattie McInnis.

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Leontyne Price earned extra money by singing for funerals and civic functions.

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Leontyne Price began her study in music education at Central State University, a historically black school in Wilberforce, Ohio.

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Leontyne Price participated in master classes, including one in 1948 with the renowned bass Paul Robeson at Antioch College.

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Leontyne Price entered the studio of Florence Page Kimball in the fall of 1948.

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Leontyne Price lived in the Harlem YWCA while studying at the Juilliard that year, which was safe and affordable accommodation open to black women.

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In fall 1950, Leontyne Price joined Juilliard's Opera Workshop and sang small roles in workshop performances of Mozart's Magic Flute and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi .

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In early 1952, Leontyne Price performed as Mistress Ford in a Juilliard production of Verdi's Falstaff.

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Leontyne Price was thus the first African American to sing with and for the Met, if not at the Met as a member of the company.

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In November 1954, Leontyne Price made her formal recital debut at New York's Town Hall.

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In January 1955, Leontyne Price sang the title role in Puccini's Tosca, the first appearance by an African American in a leading role in televised opera.

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Leontyne Price's appearance had not been widely advertised by NBC, which had a policy of "integration without identification, " and the Jackson, Mississippi, NBC affiliate carried the broadcast signal to her home town of Laurel.

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In March 1955, Leontyne Price was taken by her agent to audition at Carnegie Hall for the young Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was touring with the Berlin Philharmonic.

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Leontyne Price gave a BBC television recital of American songs with Gerald Moore, and a concert of operatic scenes by Richard Strauss for BBC Radio, conducted by Adler.

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Fall, Leontyne Price made her Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Liu in Puccini's Turandot with Birgit Nilsson in the title role, and sang Massenet's Thais.

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Leontyne Price was the first African American to sing a prima donna role in Italy's greatest opera house.

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Leontyne Price then returned to Vienna to appear first as Cio-Cio-San, Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

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Leontyne Price even took the trills as written, and nothing in the part as Verdi wrote it gave her the least bit of trouble.

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Leontyne Price had achieved an eminence no other African American had reached in opera.

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However, Leontyne Price was the first prima donna and box office star, and the first to open a season.

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Leontyne Price received enthusiastic reviews for the opening performance, but during the second performance, she confronted her first vocal crisis.

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The newspapers said that Leontyne Price was suffering a viral infection, but stress and the unsuitable weight of the role played their parts.

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However, Leontyne Price later said she was suffering from nervous exhaustion.

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Leontyne Price gave the first performance by an African American in a leading role with the company in the South, singing Fanciulla in Dallas.

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Leontyne Price sang a famous Il Trovatore in Salzburg, and Tosca and Donna Anna in Vienna, all with Karajan.

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Leontyne Price was the soprano soloist in many of Karajan's performances of Verdi's Requiem.

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The composer had written the role especially for Leontyne Price, often visiting her at home with new pages of the score.

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The chaos of the final rehearsals, along with excerpts of Leontyne Price's beautiful singing, were captured by cinema verite director Robert Drew in a Bell Telephone Hour documentary, titled "The New Met: Countdown to Curtain".

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Leontyne Price later said the experience soured her feelings toward the Met.

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Leontyne Price said she was tired, stressed by the racial tensions in the country and her role as a token of racial progress, and frustrated with the number and quality of new productions at the Met.

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Leontyne Price knew to keep a presence in opera and returned to the Met and the San Francisco Opera, her favorite house, for short runs of three to five performances, sometimes a year or more apart.

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Leontyne Price sang more often in recitals, in Hamburg, Vienna, Paris, and at the Salzburg Festival.

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In fall 1986, Leontyne Price sang the national anthem backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Orange County Performing Arts Center's opening.

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Fall, Leontyne Price sang her last new role, and her first Strauss heroine: Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos The premiere in San Francisco was considered a great success.

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In 1982, Leontyne Price returned to the Met as Leonora in Il Trovatore, a role she hadn't sung in the house since 1969.

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Leontyne Price sang a televised concert of duets and arias with Marilyn Horne and conductor James Levine, later released on record by RCA.

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In 21 seasons with the Met, Leontyne Price sang 201 performances, in 16 roles, in the house and on tour.

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Leontyne Price liked to end her encores with "This Little Light of Mine", which she said was her mother's favorite spiritual.

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Over time, Leontyne Price's voice became darker and heavier, but the upper register held up extraordinarily well and her conviction and sheer delight in singing always spilled over the footlights.

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Leontyne Price avoided the term African American, preferring to call herself an American, even a "chauvinistic American".

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In 2017, the age of 90, Leontyne Price appeared in Susan Froemke's The Opera House, a documentary about the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center in 1966.

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In 2019, Leontyne Price was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

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Leontyne Price should be an inspiration for every musician, black or white.

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Karajan took her to task for these during rehearsals for the 1977 Il trovatore, as Leontyne Price herself related in an interview in Diva, by Helena Matheopoulos.

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In March 2007, on BBC Music Magazines list of the "20 All-time Best Sopranos" based on a poll of 21 British music critics and BBC presenters, Leontyne Price was ranked fourth, after Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Victoria de los Angeles.

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