Share |

Monday, February 20, 2012

Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price

Dates: (February 10, 1927 -) Opera Singer

Leontyne Price debuted on Broadway in 1952 and at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1961. As an African American woman, Leontyne Price achieved many "firsts" in her musical career. Taking away the racial breakthroughs, Leontyne Price made her soprano career so important, that she would be remembered on purely musical grounds.

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Mary Violet Leontyne Price decided on a singing career after graduation from the College of Education and Industrial Arts, Wilberforce, Ohio, in 1948. Four years at the Juillard School of Music, led to her 1952 debut on Broadway. Ira Gershwin, based on that performance, chose Price as Bess in a revival of Porgy and Bess that played New York City 1952-54 and then toured both nationally and internationally.

In 1955, Leontyne Price was chosen to sing the title role in a television production of Tosca, becoming the first black singer on a television opera production. In 1957, she debuted in her first stage opera, the Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc. She performed in San Francisco until 1960, appearing in Vienna in 1959 and Milan in 1960. 

Her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House (Met) in New York in 1961 was as Leonora in Il Trovatore. Quickly becoming a leading soprano, Leontyne Price made the Met her primary base until her retirement in 1985. After her retirement she continued to give recitals.

Leontyne Price Bibliography

  • Aida: Leontyne Price, illustrated by Diane and Leo Dillon. Trade Paperback, 1997. Price retells the story of the Ethiopian princess who is sold into slavery in Egypt.
  • Leontyne Price: Opera Superstar (Library of Famous Women): Richard Steins, Library Binding, 1993.
Favorite SheFM Leontyne Price Quotations
• Accomplishments have no color.
• You must learn to say no when something is not right for you.
• If you're not feeling good about you, what you're wearing outside doesn't mean a thing.
• The way I was taught, being black was a plus, always. Being a human being, being in America, and being black, all three were the greatest things that could happen to you. The combination was unbeatable.
• The ultimate of being successful is the luxury of giving yourself the time to do what you want to do.
• I am here and you will know that I am the best and will hear me. The color of my skin or the kink of my hair or the spread of my mouth has nothing to do with what you are listening to.
• If you are going to think black, think positive about it. Don't think down on it, or think it is something in your way. And this way,when you really do want to stretch out, and express how beautiful black is, everybody will hear you.
• Art is the only thing you cannot punch a button for. You must do it the old-fashioned way. Stay up and really burn the midnight oil. There are no compromises.

• Once you get on stage, everything is right. I feel the most beautiful, complete, fulfilled. I think that's why, in the case of noncompromising career women, parts of our personal lives don't work out. One person can't give you the feeling that thousands of people give you.