Leontyne Price

Biography

Born: February 10, 1927; Laurel, MS  
The daughter of a carpenter and a midwife, African-American soprano Leontyne Price (born Mary Violet) studied piano and singing with the assistance of a local family that recognized her innate talents. After earning her degree from College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce, OH (where she studied with Catherine Van Buren), Price was awarded a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music where she continued vocal training with Read more Florence Page Kimball. Upon hearing her there, Virgil Thomson invited her to sing Saint Cecilia in the 1952 revival of his Four Saints in Three Acts. She then toured the United States and Europe as Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (1952-1955); on this tour she met and married bass-baritone William Warfield who was singing the role of Porgy.

In October 1953, Price sang the premiere of Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and she gave her first New York recital in November 1954; in December of the same year she sang Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Her appearances in Tosca, Die Zauberflöte, Dialogues des Carmelites, and Don Giovanni on television brought her to wide attention for both her outstanding singing, and for being the first African American leading soprano of note.

In the following seasons, she made her debuts at San Francisco, Chicago, Vienna, London, and Milan. This culminated in her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House as Leonore in Il trovatore, an evening that garnered a front page review in The New York Times. The Metropolitan would soon become her favored opera house; she sang most of her wide repertoire there, including Aida, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Leonore in La Forza del Destino, Ernani, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Fiorgiligi (Cosě), Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin. She sang her last operatic performance there in 1985 as Aida.

Price was known as much for her concert and recital appearances as for those in opera. Besides performances of common repertory works, such as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and the Verdi Requiem, she also undertook Honegger's rather obscure Jeanne d'Arc (with the New York Philharmonic) and Bruckner's Te Deum (at Salzburg). Her solo concerts often featured lesser-known arias and excerpts, including the "Awakening of Helen" from Strauss' Egyptian Helen, selections from Barber's Anthony and Cleopatra and The Songs of the Rose of Sharon by John La Montaine.

She gave annual recitals throughout North America and was also heard regularly in Europe, being a special favorite at the Salzburg Festival. Her recital repertoire was extensive, ranging from the songs of Poulenc, Hahn, and Marx, to traditional spirituals; her final encore was often "This little light of mine" -- one of her mother's favorite pieces.

Leontyne Price's voice was a spinto soprano of great beauty. She had a wonderful feeling for the sweep of the long phrases of Verdi and her technique allowed her to encompass all of the difficulties of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and Elvira (Ernani). Her lower register had a quality often described as "dusky" which many listeners found quite sensual. Most of her important operatic roles were recorded by RCA, but only a small fraction of her recital repertoire found its way onto disc. Leontyne Price will always be remembered as one of the greatest Verdi sopranos of the twentieth century. Read less
Verdi: Aida / Solti, Price, Vickers, Merrill / Rome Opera Orchestra [2CD + Blu-ray Audio]
Release Date: 06/30/2017   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 4831490   Number of Discs: 3
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Browse 1-25 of 128 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Verdi: Aida / Solti, Price, Vickers, Merrill / Rome Opera Orchestra [2CD + Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4831490 Release Date: 06/30/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Robert Merrill,  Rita Gorr,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 2.
    Puccini: Tosca / Price, Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4831486 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Leontyne Price
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $32.99
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  • 3.
    The Inaugural Season: Extraordinary Met Performances from 1966-67
    Label: Metropolitan Opera   Catalog: 70182 Release Date: 12/16/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Jess Thomas,  Leontyne Price,  Justino Diaz,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta,  Karl Böhm,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $276.99
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  • 4.
    Supreme Sopranos
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4594 Release Date: 12/06/2016  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Wagner,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Birgit Nilsson,  Eileen Farrell,  Renata Tebaldi,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    DVD: $28.99
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  • 5.
    Leontyne Price: Prima Donna Assoluta
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 531134 Release Date: 10/07/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Sherrill Milnes,  Leontyne Price,  Judith Raskin,  Tatiana Troyanos  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Herbert von Karajan,  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Opera Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002503602 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Henry Lewis,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 7.
    Great Moments at Carnegie Hall (Selected Highlights)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 530420 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Paul de Schlözer,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Ronald Turini,  Artur Rubinstein,  Jorge Bolet,  Van Cliburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Arturo Toscanini,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra of St. Luke's
    CD: $11.99
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  • 8.
    Great Moments at Carnegie Hall
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 503227 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 43
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Roy Harris,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz,  Jussi Björling,  Frederick Schauwecker,  Van Cliburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini,  Serge Koussevitzky,  Bruno Walter,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
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  • 9.
    Mozart: Cosi fan tutte / Price, Leinsdorf, New Philharmonia Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875196382 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Sherrill Milnes,  Leontyne Price,  Judith Raskin,  Tatiana Troyanos  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 10.
    Great Verdi Voices / Munich Radio Orchestra
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900313 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Neil Shicoff,  Julia Varády,  José Carreras  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Franci,  Heinz Wallberg,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Kurt Eichhorn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
    CD: $17.99
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  • 11.
    Bizet: Carmen (Highlights) / Price, Freni, Corelli, Merrill, Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88697757512 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Bernard Demigny,  Mirella Freni,  Monique Linval,  Genevičve Macaux  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $6.99
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  • 12.
    Verdi: La Forza Del Destino / Levine, Price, Domingo, Milnes, London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88697986002 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Leontyne Price,  Placido Domingo,  Sherrill Milnes
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 13.
    Placido Domingo - The Verdi Tenor
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88697840172 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Placido Domingo
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $6.99
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  • 14.
    Strauss: Four Last Songs; Die Frau ohne Schatten, Also Sprach Zarathustra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697712872 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Leontyne Price
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $6.99
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  • 15.
    Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera / Leinsdorf, Price, Bergonzi, Verrett, Merrill, RCA Italiana Opera
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697581322 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi,  Leontyne Price,  Shirley Verrett,  Robert Merrill
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Verdi: Requiem / Price, Baker, Luchetti, van Dam, Solti, Chicago Symphony
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697705692 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Veriano Luchetti,  José van Dam,  Dame Janet Baker
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
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  • 17.
    Karajan - The Opera Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002328102 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Lehár,  Franz von Suppé  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  Christine Barbaux,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 18.
    Verdi: Messa Da Requiem / Karajan, Price, Cossotto, Bergonzi
    Label: Relief Classical   Catalog: 8004 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Nicola Zaccaria
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    The Christmas Album / Herbert Von Karajan
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002179802 Release Date: 11/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Traditional,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra members,  Vienna Children's Chorus  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 20.
    The Early Domingo
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 975792 Release Date: 08/26/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Jacques Halévy  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Georgetta Psaros,  John McCaw,  Franklyn Whiteley  ... 
    Conductor:  Edward Downes,  Nello Santi,  Sherrill Milnes,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
    CD: $21.49
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  • 21.
    I Don't Like Classical Music, But I Really Like This!
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 74698 Release Date: 06/17/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Carl Orff,  Richard Wagner,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel Woodhouse,  Paul Meyer,  Kolja Blacher,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Eduardo Mata,  Gustav Kuhn,  Mark Stephenson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 22.
    Karajan 1947-1958: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms - Choral Music
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633629 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Nicolai Gedda,  Marga Höffgen,  Heinz Rehfuss  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 23.
    Rca Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 24.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
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  • 25.
    Domingo - The Verdi Opera Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 372279 Release Date: 01/07/2014   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Bruce Brewer,  Edith Mathis,  Hans Sotin  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  James Levine,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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