Leontyne Price

Composers

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 (Così), 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
Browse 1-25 of 200 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    I Don't Like Classical Music, But I Kinda 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  ... 
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  • 2.
    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
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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Domingo - The Verdi Opera Collection [15-CD Set]
    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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  • 6.
    Verdi at The Met
    Label: Sony   Catalog:  721202 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Rosa Ponselle,  Friedrich Jagel,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Henriette Wakefield  ... 
    Conductor:  Ettore Panizza,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Thomas Schippers,  Fritz Stiedry  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7703776 Release Date: 06/14/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Marilyn Horne,  James Morris,  Leontyne Price,  Cornell MacNeil  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
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  • 8.
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7700920 Release Date: 06/14/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Giulietta Simionato,  Rudolf Zimmer,  Ettore Bastianini,  Kurt Equiluz  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 9.
    Anton Bruckner - The Collection
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13007 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Performer:  Wolfgang Czelusta,  Peter Redwig,  Klaus Bäuerle,  Fritz Resch  ... 
    Conductor:  Georg Tintner,  Gerd Schaller,  Klaus Tennstedt,  Kurt Sanderling  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland,  Philharmonie Festiva  ... 
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  • 10.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Solti, Merrill, Moffo, Kraus, Opera di Roma Orchestra
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Anna Moffo,  Robert Merrill,  Rosalind Elias,  Ezio Flagello  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  John Pritchard,  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
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  • 11.
    50 Best Verdi
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 338302 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Rolando Villazón,  Renato Bruson,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Marcello Viotti,  Giuseppe Patané,  Julius Rudel  ... 
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  • 12.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
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  • 13.
    Verdi: Opera Highlights
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 167332 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Alfredo Kraus,  Renata Scotto,  Beverly Sills,  Sherrill Milnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Julius Rudel,  Herbert von Karajan,  Lamberto Gardelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
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  • 14.
    Solti Conducts The Strauss Operas [15-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746102 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Waldemar Kmentt,  Hilde Gueden,  Eberhard Wächter,  Wilhelm Lenninger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Solti Conducts The Verdi Operas [16-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746202 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    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,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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    On sale! $99.98
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  • 16.
    Verdi, Puccini: Duets / Price, Domingo
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 195834 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Placido Domingo,  Grace Bumbry,  Elisabeth Bainbridge
    Conductor:  Nello Santi,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $6.99
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  • 17.
    Voices Of Italian Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40509 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Edita Gruberova,  Margherita Carosio,  Francesco Meli  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Evelino Pidò  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Mozart: Requiem; Bruckner: Te Deum
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 233447 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georg Philipp Telemann
    Performer:  Hilde Rössl-Majdan,  Franz Sauer,  Walter Berry,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wolfgang Langenbeck
    CD: $15.99
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  • 19.
    Schubert: Lieder On Record (1898-2012) [17-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27575 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Steven Zehr,  Thomas Hampson,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
    On sale! $67.98
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  • 20.
    Leontyne Price Sings Spirituals
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 92824 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Thacker Burleigh,  Traditional,  Roland Hayes,  Billy Taylor  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Connally Walton
    Conductor:  Leonard De Paur,  Lassaye Van Buren Holmes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Chorus,  Rust College Choir
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  • 21.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Richard Strauss Heroines / Nilsson, Price, Della Casa, Gueden, Crespin, Silja
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4805951 Release Date: 03/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hilde Gueden,  Lisa Della Casa,  Barry McDaniel,  Leontyne Price  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Silvio Varviso,  Karl Böhm,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 23.
    Leontyne Price - The Complete Collection Of Operatic Recital Albums
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 794051 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  George Gershwin,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Laura Londi,  John W. Bubbles,  William Warfield  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Arturo Basile,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Leontyne Price - The Complete Collection of Song & Spiritual Albums
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 794050 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Gabriel Fauré,  Francis Poulenc,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Samuel Barber,  David Garvey,  Patricia Clark  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Thomas Schippers,  Leonard De Paur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 25.
    Verdi: Ernani / Schippers, Bergonzi, Nagy, Price, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 190996 Release Date: 01/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Ronald Reitan,  Cornell MacNeil,  Leontyne Price,  Carlo Bergonzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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