Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – The Finale


classical musicWelcome to the last part in our series on Leontyne Price. The American soprano paved the way for so many young singers, particularly those African American artists who wanted to take their rightful place in the world of opera.  William Price King takes us through Leontyne’s final official performances.. Although I am sure at age 90, this wonderful singer still enjoys singing in private.

indexLeontyne Price was now at the peak of her career in the early 1970s and as such was often invited to sing at state occasions.  She had been invited to sing at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration in 1965 and she attended his funeral in January 1973 where she sang Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Onward Christian Soldiers.  Leontyne also perforned at state functions during President Jimmy Carter’s term in office including on the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Having missed the 1972 season, Leontyne returned to the Met in 1973 to sing Madama Butterfly for the first time in ten years.

Leontyne Price’s “Un Bel Di” from Madama Butterfly is ravishingly beautiful and demonstrates why she was one of the greatest lirico spinto sopranos ever. Here, she gives a commanding and fearless performance which would delight any Puccini enthusiast, with her rich low tones, her vibrant middle and her radiant top.

In 1976, the Met mounted a long-delayed new production of Aida, with James McCracken as Radames and Marilyn Horne as Amneris, directed by John Dexter. In 1977 Leontyne renewed her partnership with Herbert von Karajan in a Brahms Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.  Following this she and Karajan returned to perform what would be her final opera performances in Europe, in Il Travatore at the Salzburg Easter Festival and Vienna’s Staatsoper.

1977 also saw Leontyne sing her last new role as the Strauss heroine Ariadne in San Francisco to rave reviews.

Leontyne Price sings “Ein Schönes War” from Ariadne auf Naxos

I believe that most opera buffs would agree that Ariadne was a great role for Ms. Price. Her voice easily encompassed the wide range that this role offers. Her German is practically faultless, and there is such a wealth of gorgeous tone, sensitive artistry and impeccable musicianship.In this aria,Ariadne recalls her love for Theseus,andimagines herself as a chaste girl, awaiting death.


In 1979 she did bring the role of Ariadne to the Met, but she was suffering from a viral infection and only performed two of the scheduled perfomances.

However, there were still some exceptional performances to come and in fall of 1981 Leontyne stepped in for soprano Margaret Price as Aida in San Francisco. In 1983 she hosted two televised performances of ‘In Performance from the White House‘.

After revisiting some of her most famous roles in San Francisco and at the Met, Price gave her operatic farewell on January 3, 1985, in a televised performance of Aida from the Met which was hailed as one of the most successful operatic performances in the Met’s history. . Time Magazine described it as a “vocally stunning performance… that proved she can still capture her peak form.” Donal Henahan wrote that the “57-year-old soprano took an act or two to warm to her work, but what she delivered in the Nile Scene turned out to be well worth the wait.

In 2007, PBS viewers voted her singing of the aria, “O patria mia”, as the No. 1 “Great Moment” in 30 years of “Live from the Met” telecasts. The performance ended with 25 minutes of applause.

Leontyne Price sang 201 performances with the Met, in 16 roles, in the house and on tour, including galas. (She was absent for three seasons—1970–71, 1977–78, and 1980–81—and sang only in galas in 1972-73, 1979–80, and 1982–83.)

Over the next twelve years, Leontyne Price continued to perform concerts and recitals with her longtime accompanist David Garvey. The programme usually combined Handel arias, French melodies, German Lieder and one or two arias

Leontyne often included American Art Songs and Spirituals in her concerts. “This little light of mine” was her mother’s favorite spiritual and one audiences loved to hear. Ms. Price used her *timbre as a form of embellishment as she moved deftly between a polished art song sound and a more robust gospel style sound to deliver spirituals. It worked beautifully.

*timbre – the character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity.


Before retiring, Price gave several master classes at Juilliard and other schools. In 1997, at the suggestion of RCA-BMG, she wrote a children’s book version of Aida, which became the basis for the hit Broadway musical by Elton J and Tim Rice in 2000.

In October 2001, at the age of 74, Price was asked to come out of retirement to sing in a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall for the victims of the September 11 attacks. With James Levine at the piano, she sang her favorite spiritual, “This Little Light of Mine”, followed by an unaccompanied “God Bless America,” ending it with a bright, easy high B.

Leontyne Price now lives in Greenwich Village in New York City and it seems a fitting way to end this look at her wonderful and inspiring career with a song that demonstrates her versatility.

Ms. Price often sang songs from the Great American Songbook. Here is her concert version of “What I did for love” from the Broadway show “A Chorus Line”. She lends her deliciously silken tone to this famous tune. Breath taking!

 

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his music

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

N.B.  Next week marks the first in the Creative Artist’s interviews and William Price King is the first guest.. For those of you who have enjoyed William’s music post since 2014 it will be an opportunity to ask your own questions in the comment section of the post.  I know that William is looking forward to hearing from you.. Next Wednesday March 1st.  Please join us for the first of the interactive interviews.

If you are a poet, photographer, musician, artist, storyteller then here are the details of the new series.. I already have some wonderful guests lined up but would be delighted to hear from you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/new-series-smorgasbord-creative-artist-interview-musicians-bloggers-artists-photographers/

Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price Part Three – 1960s


classical musicWelcome to the third part of Leontyne Price’s career and performances. And to set the scene a few words from her admirers.

In The Grand Tradition, a 1974 history of operatic recording, the British critic J.B. Steane wrote that “one might conclude from recordings that [Price] is the best interpreter of Verdi of the century.” For the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, a 1963 Price performance of Tosca at the Vienna State Opera “left me with the strongest impression I have ever gotten from opera.” In his 1983 autobiography, Placido Domingo writes, “The power and sensuousness of Leontyne’s voice were phenomenal—the most beautiful Verdi soprano I have ever heard.”

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William Price King now picks up Leontyne Price’s story in the 1960s.

In September 1961, Leontyne Price opened the Met season as Minnie in La fanciulla del West. A musicians’ strike had threatened to abort the season, but President Kennedy sent Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg to mediate a settlement.

Following her second Faniciulla performance it became apparent that Leontyne had a problem with her voice. After losing it completely , she was forced to shout her lines until the end of the act, when standby soprano, Dorothy Kristen replaced her in the third act.

After several weeks recovering from a reported viral infection, Leontyne returned for another Fanciulla performance and Butterfly in December. Having carried out her commitments she then left for a three months to Rome. She would later comment that she was suffering from nervous exhaustion.

However, in the April, Leontyne returned to the Met to perform in her first fully staged Tosca and following that up with the Met tour which included Tosca, Butterfly and Fanciulla. It was also a landmark tour that saw Leontyne Price as the first African American to perform in a lead role in the South, specifically in Dallas.

La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini. It was based on the the play The Girl of the Golden West by American David Belasco and followed Butterfly which was also based on one of his plays. Whilst not as well known as other Puccini operas, it still has wonderful orchestration and is regarded as more melodic than some of his previous work.

At the end of Act I, Price, as Minnie, recalls her happy childhood and sings about her ideal love in the aria “Laggiù nel Soledad.” This is the only role Leontyne Price sang which was not exactly for her. Nonetheless, her voice is captivating and she soars up to those high C’s with no problem and makes them ring.

Although other African American opera stars had performed in leading roles at the Met, Leontyne Price was the first to achieve recognition on both sides of the Atlantic, the first to be repeatedly invited to perform with the Met in various leading roles, and the first to earn the highest fee, which put her on a par with the leading sopranos at the time such as Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas. Not an easy road to success in a time of segregation and continued racism against African Americans in opera. Especially when opportunities in general were limited in the world of opera.

Following the successful tour, Leontyne added more roles to her repertoire at the Met. These included Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani, Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Fiordilgi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oenegin, Cleopatra in Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, and Leonora in La forza del destino.

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (Thus Do They All, or The School for Lovers) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an Italian opera buffa. Buffa was first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas, also know as commedia in musica or dramma bernesco, and were particularly associated with productions in Naples in the first half of the 18th century. A buffa in the beginning tended to contain everyday settings, local dialects and simpler librettos. If you like to our modern day soap-opera. Cosi fan tutti was first performed in Vienna in January 1790. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who also wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Here is Leontyne who loved singing Mozart, and her Fiordiligi is considered one of the best. “Come scoglio” (Like a rock) demands a singer who can handle the extreme parts of the soprano range with great ease and Price was perfect in the role.

By 1966 Leontyne Price was at the peak of her career when she sang Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by American composer Samuel Barber and conducted by Thomas Schippers in the newly opened Met’s house at Lincoln Center. Leontyne and Samuel Barber had worked together several times from her early career and remained close friends. This collaboration allowed Samuel Barber, who knew her voice well, to tailor the music for Cleopatra’s role perfectly to suit both her register and range.

Following this role, Leontyne decided to cut back on her operatic performances and to focus on recitals and concerts. The schedule of new productions at the Met and also the need to adjust her vocal technique as she moved into her forties was tiring. However her career continued to flourish as she toured major cities and large universities.

As she moved into the 1970s, Leontyne returned to Europe to perform in Hamburg and London’s Covent Garden with further recitals in Vienna, Paris and the Salzburg Festival. She was so popular at the festival that she continued to return six times between 1975 and 1984.

Leontyne was invited back to the Met, but only undertook three new roles after 1970 which included Ariadne in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne aux Naxos in San Franciso and New York.

In 1971 she performed in Il tabarro (The Cloak), which is one act opera by Giacomo Puccini with an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami. It was based on Didier Gold’s play La houppelande.. It is the first of a trio of operas known a Il Trittico first performed at the Met in New York in 1918.

Here is Leontyne Price singing “E ben altro il mio sogno” Il Tabarro Live 1971. In the role of Giorgetta from Puccini’s “Il Tabarro”  Leontyne Price is at home. This role is perfectly fit for her voice and she does a magnificent job in this impassioned duet with Luigi, dreaming of a better life in Paris, in the aria “E ben altro il mio sogno.”The characterization is rapturous.

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his musicAbout William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – Part Two – Star on the Rise.


classical music

Welcome to part two of the life and music of American Soprano Leontyne Price. Last week we looked at her early life and the artists who inspired her. This week we cover the rest of the 1950s and the rising star of this talented singer. It was not alway easy as there was still a great deal of bigotry against African American opera singers but as you will see Leontyne Price did not allow this to stand in her way.  William Price King now picks up the story.

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In 1955  the world of opera had opened its doors to Leontyne Price who was still only 28 years old. In the February she was invited to sing Puccini’s Tosca for the NBC Opera Theatre under music director Peter Herman Adler, and was the first African American to appear in a leading role in a televised opera. This did not avoid controversy as a number of the NBC affiliates, both in the southern and northern states, cancelled the broadcast in protest. However, despite what must have been a very difficult time for Leontyne, she returned for thee more NBC Opera broadcasts in 1956, 1957 and 1960.

This was not to be the only incident of bigotry in her career, and in fact when she was touring with Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg in 1960, a stone was thrown through her window. In 1964 her perfomance of Donna Anna in Atlanta was marred by protests from certain factions.

Her collaboration with the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan began in 1955 when he was on tour with the Berlin Philharmonic. He reportedly leapt on stage to accompany her himself during her audition as she performed Pace, pace, mio Dio from Verdi’s Forza del Destino.

This is a slightly later recording in 1963.

In the last act of “La Forza del Destino” Price sings “Pace, Pace, mio Dio,” a powerfully dramatic moment where she prays for peace on her tortured soul and expresses her love for God and for Alvaro. Verdi arias were made for Price’s voice. Her “Pace, Pace mio Dio” is like no one else’s, a real treasure. Her rich, warm, pure voice is stunning and she spins her golden sound beautifully and freely.

The next three years were to be very busy for this rising star in the classical music world.  Leontyne performed in recitals with her accompanist David Garvey, and she also appeared with a number of orchestras across the United States. Her star was also on the rise internationally and she toured India in 1956, Australia in 1957 under the U.S. State Department banner. In May 1957 Leontyne made her first public appearance in the concert version of Aida, at the May Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

That September she performed for the first time on the grand opera stage in San Francisco singing Madame Lidoine in the U.S premiere of the Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Dialogues des Carmélites is a French Opera in three acts divided into twelve scenes, with linking orchestral interludes with music and libretto by Francis Poulenc and was completed in 1956. The libretto was written after a book of the same name by French author Georges Bernanos who had died in 1948.The story is based on the 1794 history of the Martyrs of Compiègne who were guillotined during the French Revolution.

The world premiere of the opera was in January 1957 in La Scala in Milan in Italian, in its original French in the June and then in English in San Franciso in the September.

A few weeks after her debut in this new opera, Leontyne sang her first on-stage Aida, stepping in for Italian soprano Antoinetta Stella who fell ill. And in May of 1958 she made her European debut, as Aida, at the Vienna Staatsoper at the invitation of Herbert von Karajan.

Leontyne Price sings “O Patria Mia” from Aida (Verdi)

In Act III, on the eve of Amneris’ wedding to Radames, Aida, overcome with nostalgia on the banks of the Nile, mourns her homeland which she will never see again in the aria “O Patria Mia.” Price’s “Aida” is phenomenal, and pure perfection. It is considered a testament to her career. Her clear diction, lustrous tone, and flawless legato stand out in this aria.

After this wonderful European debut invitations flooded in and Leontyne performed at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Arena di Verona in Italy as Aida. The following year she returned to Vienna in the role as well as Pamina in The Magic Flute. Leontyne made her debut at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Karajan.

Leontyne Price and Herbert von Karajan’s dynamic collaboration was to be instrumental in her early successes in both the opera house, concert hall and recording studio where they produced complete recordings of Tosca and Carmen as well as a bestselling holidy music album, A Christmas Offering.

On May 21, 1960, Price made her first appearance at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, again as Aida, becoming the first African American to sing a leading role in Italy’s greatest opera house. (In 1958, Mattiwilda Dobbs, from Atlanta, had sung Elvira, the secondary lead soprano role in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri.)

In 1959, after hearing her in Il Trovatore that August at Verona with tenor Franco Corelli, Met General Manager Rudolf Bing invited her to join the Met company in the 1960–61 season. On January 27, 1961, she made a triumphant debut in Il Trovatore.

Tacea La Notte Placida” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.

In Act I of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Leonora tells her servant, Ines, that she heard someone serenading her in the garden, a knight in black armor who she had once crowned as the champion of a tournament. She confesses her love for him in this *cavatina “Tacea La Notte Placida,” which she sings with an entrancing blend of lyricism and expressivity. Her control is amazing and her diction is excellent.

*cavatina – In opera the cavatina is an aria, generally of brilliant character, sung in one or two sections without repeats.

The final ovation lasted at least 35 minutes, one of the longest in Met history. Price’s debut at the New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House was such a success, it marked the beginning of her residency as one of the opera’s principal sopranos. She flourished as a prima donna at the Met, starring in such roles such as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West and, perhaps most notably, as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra.

In recognition of this extraordinary run, Time magazine put her on its cover on March . That fall, American music critics named her “Musician of the Year” and she was put on the cover of “Musical America.”

In his review, The New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that Price’s “voice, warm and luscious, has enough volume to fill the house with ease, and she has a good technique to back up the voice itself. She even took the trills as written, and nothing in the part as Verdi wrote it gave her the least bit of trouble. She moves well and is a competent actress. But no soprano makes a career of acting. Voice is what counts, and voice is what Miss Price has.

The career of Leontyne Price was well and truly launched.

Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his music

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – The Early Years.


classical music

Welcome to the last in the Classical Music with William Price King series. And to finish the series on some of the great contemporary opera singers of our time, we will be covering the life and work of American Soprano Leontyne Price. This outstanding soprano rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera.

Leontyne Price said this of her debut at the Met: It was the first operatic mountain I climbed, and the view from it was astounding, exhilarating, stupefying.

In an interview Leontyne Price once recalled that Maria Callas had told her, during a meeting with the older diva in Paris, “I hear a lot of love in your voice.” The sopranos Renee Fleming, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jessye Norman, Leona Mitchell, the mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, bass-baritone Jose Van Dam, and the counter tenor David Daniels, have talked about Leontyne Price as an early inspiration.

Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Spingarn Medal (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1985), numerous honorary degrees, and 19 Grammy Awards, 13 for operatic or song recitals, five for full operas, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989, more than any other classical singer. In October 2008, she was one of the recipients of the first Opera Honors given by the National Endowment for the Arts.

William Price King now picks up the story in the 1920s and Leontyne Price’s early years and influences.

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After a long wait of 13 years, James who worked in a lumber mill and Katie Price, a midwife and member of the church choir, welcomed their daughter, Mary Violet Leontyne Price into the world in February 1927 in Laurel Mississippi.  She was to become the focus of their loving attention and was introduced to music at the age of three when given a toy piano leading to lessons with a local teacher. James and Katie sacrificed much to ensure that Mary’s musical talent was developed, and even sold the family phonograph to fund the purchase of an upright piano despite their daughter still being in kindergarten.

Katie Price’s influence as a member of the church choir was instrumental in encouraging her daughter’s singing.

At 14, Leontyne was taken on a school trip to hear contralto Marian Anderson sing in Jackson; an experience she later said was inspirational. Marian Anderson who was born in 1897, was one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century. Most of her career was spent performing in concerts and recitals in major venues and with prominent conductors and orchestras throughout the US and Europe between 1925 and 1965.

Here is an example of the inspirational voice of Marian Anderson, that Leontyne Price would have heard in the early 1940s, singing a spiritual Deep River.. Marian lived to the wonderful age of 96 and inspired many young singers in the 20th century.

In her teen years, Leontyne accompanied the “second choir” at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, sang and played for the chorus at the black high school, and earned extra money by singing for funerals and civic functions.

During the war years, Leontyne worked part-time alongside her aunt in the home of a wealthy white couple, Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm. Mrs Chisholm actively encouraged Leontyne to play the piano and also discovered Leontyne’s incredible singing voice. This led to her accompanying her at several recitals and church concerts in the state during Leontyne’s college years.

Aiming for a teaching career, Leontyne enrolled in the music education program at the all-black Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio. Her success in the glee club led to solo assignments, and she was encouraged to complete her studies in voice. She sang in the choir with another soon-to-be-famous singer, Betty Allen. With the help of the Chisholms and the famous bass Paul Robeson, who put on a benefit concert for her, she enrolled at the Juillard School in New York City. She won a scholarship and was admitted to the studio of Florence Page Kimball, who would remain her principal teacher and advisor throughout the 1960s.

In the summer of 1951, she studied in the opera program at the Berkshire Music Center and sang the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It combines slapstick comedy with beautiful music and the theme was aimed at appealing to a less high brow audience than traditional opera.

This is the first leading role that Leontyne Price performed during her long and illustrious career and in this slightly later recording shows the beauty of her voice.

In this aria full of despair, Ariadne, after having been left by her love Theseus, describes the land of death to which she will go to escape her pain. She welcomes death, thinking that in death she will find everything that she has been denied in life. Price is in great shape in this aria and handles the difficult high *tessitura passages very well.

The dark color of her voice is intriguing, yielding a fascinating portrait – soulful, heartfelt, melancholic – of Ariadne. A memorable moment. and a remarkable triumph.

* tessitura – The range of a vocal or instrumental part in a musical composition.

This was followed in 1952 with the role of Mistress Ford in the Juilliard student production of Verdi’s Falstaff and to her casting in the all-black opera, Four Saints in Three Acts by American composer and critic Virgil Thomson. When the opera went to Paris after its initial two week run on Broadway, Leontyne Price joined the cast of the Robert Breen/Blevins Davs revival of George Gershwin’s Porky and Bess in the title role on tour. With its major city tour including Chicago and Washington over it in the U.S, the production, sponsored by the State Department began a tour of Europe.

Summertime is an aria that Gershwin composed in 1934 for the opera “Porgy and Bess,” a brilliant mixture of jazz and song styles of blacks from the South during the early twentieth century in the U.S.

Leontyne Price was 25 years old when she recorded this. ‘Bess’ was her break-through role. Summertime is a lullaby sung by Clara to her baby in Act I, indicating that everything is going to be all right. The song is reprised in Act III, by “Bess” and Price sings it passionately with a knockout downward *glissando which climaxes this performance. Her voice is exquisite. A real treat!

*glissando – a continuous slide upwards or downwards between two or more notes.

Primarily Leontyne Price focused on a recital career, particularly because of the earlier influences of Marian Anderson and other successful black concert singers including Roland Hayes and bass baritone William Warfield.

However, the role of ‘Bess’ was to demonstrate that Leontyne Price had both the voice and performance skills to sing on the operatic stage.  This led to the Metropolitan Opera inviting her to sing Summertime at the Met Jamoboree fund-raiser in 1953 at the Ritz Theater on Broadway.. this made Leontyne the first African American to sing with the Met, although not on the actual stage of the Met. That distinction when to Leontyne’s childhood inspiration Marian Anderson who sang Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo un Maschera in January 1955.

Whilst touring with Porky and Bess, Leontyne found time to also sing the premiere of Hermit Songs.

Hermit Songs is a cycle of ten songs for voice and piano by Samuel Barber. Written in 1953 on a grant from the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, it takes as its basis a collection of anonymous poems written by Irish monks and scholars from the 8th to the 13th centuries, in translations by W. H. Auden, Chester Kallman, Howard Mumford Jones, Kenneth H. Jackson and Seán Ó Faoláin. They are small poems, thoughts or observations, and speak in straightforward, droll, and modern terms of the simple life these men led, close to nature, to animals and to God.

The Hermit Songs received their premiere in 1953 at the Library of Congress. Samuel Barber accompanies Price on piano. The most famous of these songs is The Monk and his Cat which Price performs with sensitivity, restraint, control, and charm.


Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally