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Subject: Re: Leontyne Price's discriminating remark (WAS Re: Bonynge Interview about Pavarotti)
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 1 Oct 2016 18:34:03 +0000
Content-Type:text/plain
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First of all, this incident involving Leontyne Price has already been documented in several books, so it's no secret. Leontyne Price happened to be in San Francisco at the time, and was gingerly approached by by the San Francisco Opera. Her first inclination was to decline, but Kurt Adler begged her, and being the pro she was, she accepted, but only on the condition that "I receive no dollar more than the fat man". In truth, Pavarotti and Price sang together very, very rarely (once on the 1983 Met Gala in the "Ballo" duet. They may have crossed each others vocal paths at some time or other, but very rarely. 
The truth is that most of the superstar sopranos by the 1980's preferred NOT to appear with Pavarotti, especially after that "Gioconda" incident with Scotto in San Francisco in 1979. I myself saw the 1980 LOC "Ballo" with Pavarotti and Scotto, and the tension between the two was obvious. Not even a hug during the Love Duet! They merely held hands during the duet and at the curtain calls, avoided each other completely. Whether or not Scotto had any business singing these roles is besides the point. She was a big attraction. 
Pavarotti used to bring his own sopranos (of competent abilities but no more) with him and had enough clout to get them hired to sing with him, thus assuring himself complete star domination over the opera. By that time, his ego was the only thing bigger than his waistline. His attempt at "La Fille du Regiment" with June Anderson in 1997 was a huge failure at the Met (the top Cs had to be transposed down to B flat), and it was not a happy series of performances. His only real option was repeated and repeated "Tosca" performances, where he could spent a lot of time sitting down. By 2000, his weight was around 450 pounds and he could not walk, walk stairs, and suffered from terrible back problems (due undoubtedly to his morbid obesity). 
As early as 1990, he gave a concert version of Verdi's "Otello" with Solti (and poor Kiri, who was badly rattled by his behavior). He spent the entire evening sitting at a table eating apples and drinking wine. He stood up only when he had to, but then returned to his cushioned chair). I was at that performance and it was disgusting. The audience was appalled. 
It's a good thing he abjured the opera stage by that time and stuck to concerts singing the usual arias from Tosca, Boheme, L'Elisir, and of course, "Nessun Dorma" (which he sang to death). He thrived in singing with pop artists because they presented him with no competition. Price, Sutherland, Nilsson, Scotto, Caballe, Freni, and all the others had already retired, and he himself knew that his opera days were over. When he appeared for the last time in 2002, in Berlin, again in "Tosca" (pictured in Breslin's book), he looked positively grotesque. Of course he was seated. The performance was a travesty. He was already very sick at the time (though the cancer was not yet discovered) and history had already written itself. 
It's been reported that Adua Pavarotti has been approached to write a book. If Herbert Breslin exposed him negatively, I'm sure that Adua will go even deeper. And in case anyone wonders, she took PLENTY of BIG $$$$$$$$$$ for the divorce. 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Max Paley" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: "OPERA-L" <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2016 9:52:53 AM 
Subject: Re: Leontyne Price's discriminating remark (WAS Re: Bonynge Interview about Pavarotti) 

Aren't we all just great at monitoring and judging other people's behavior! 

Max Paley 

Sent from my iPad 

> On Sep 30, 2016, at 23:41, Takis Pavl. <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
> 
> Well the full story doesn't make it any better Max. I'm quite shocked to hear that Leontyne Price made such a comment about her colleague. Coming from a woman and a legendary soprano who I'm sure had experienced discrimination in her time it shows that great voices don't always say great things. It shows that we know very little about the personalities behind those great voices. 
> 
> I wonder what people would have thought of her colleagues, had one of them made a similar joke using her race or another one's religion as a "funny excuse" to be paid more. Disgusting. 
> 
> Takis 
> 
> From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> 
> To: [log in to unmask] 
> Sent: Saturday, 1 October 2016, 6:39 
> Subject: Re: Bonynge Interview about Pavarotti 
> 
> Les, a little more context is called for around the Leontyne Price comment. 
> 
> She did say something like this. It was in San Francisco in Autumn of 1981. 
> 
> SF Opera had mounted a big hoopla around a production of “Aida” in which Pavarotti was doing his first staged Rhadames. Aida was Margaret Price and Amneris was Stefani Toczyska, Simon Estes as Amonasro and Navarro conducting. A huge amount of the attention was around Pavarotti. 
> 
> Margaret Price developed a bad case of bronchitis during the run. Company GM Kurt Herbert Adler was searching for a reasonable cover and thought of Leontyne Price, who was in town at that time doing “Trovatore” with Bonisolli. Even though Leontyne Price later famously did her Met farewell as Aida, at that time in 1981 she had actually quasi “retired” the role and not sung it for several years. 
> 
> Adler begged her (it was very special to him, as it was his last season as GMD) and, after some reluctance, she started to let herself be persuaded. When it came to fee discussions, she asked Adler “How much you payin’ the fat boy? I want one dollar more.” Aida found its way back into her throat even more easily than she thought and it led her to take up more performances, including another run in SF for which she was the planned Aida a few years later and the famous Met farewell. 
> 
> Sergio’s comment has validity. Sure, it’s gross to see someone vastly overweight. But it’s not like sheer greed and gluttony do that. Many people eat as much as they feel like and eat whatever they feel like and never get grossly fat like that. And, yes, there are known ties between obesity and the problems you mention of diabetes, heart disease, but actually the causal connection to cancer, particularly liver or pancreatic cancer, is still very mysterious to the medical community. Many very fit and healthy people get it and die from it and many very heavy people who never exercise don’t. 
> 
> I worked with Steve Jobs (not directly, but close enough to be around him a lot) and he was not only vegetarian, macrobiotic, etc. but he had an absolute horror of any kind of fat. He was always extremely slender, but he developed pancreatic cancer that then spread to his liver. 
> 
> So saying Pavarotti and Johan Botha ate and drank themselves to death by liver or pancreatic cancer is passing a judgement about something nobody actually knows about. 
> 
> Max Paley 
> 
>> On Sep 30, 2016, at 7:39 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
>> 
>> I have no intention of getting into a pissing match over this. Everyone knows about the dangers of carrying around an extra 150 to 200 pounds. It increases the odds for diabetes, heart disease, stomach and colon cancers, as well as a plethora of other problems. It's also causes blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. You don't have to be a doctor to know that a man who's 200 pounds overweight and eats like a god-damned horse is a walking time bomb waiting to explode. 
>> This is not a matter of body shaming. It's a matter of life and death. Any intelligent human being knows this. Yes, Pavarotti had a great career, but it could have been a far greater and monumental career. He never achieved the artistic potential that his magnificent voice warranted. 
>> When Leontyne Price was asked to sing with Pavarotti, she accepted, but she said, "provided I get paid more than the fat man" 
>> 'Nuff said...........case closed. 
>> 
>> 
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> 
>> From: "Sergio da Silva" <[log in to unmask]> 
>> To: "Les Mitnick" <[log in to unmask]> 
>> Cc: "OPERA-L" <[log in to unmask]> 
>> Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 6:01:16 PM 
>> Subject: Re: Bonynge Interview about Pavarotti 
>> 
>> I know you have a friend who is a doctor but can you provide any medical journal that proves your theory of obesity to cause pancreatic cancer. And why this obsession in denigrating obese singers? 
>> While Pavarotti was at t he top of his game he overshadowed his competition and had quite a long career. 
>> 
>> On Friday, September 30, 2016, Les Mitnick < [log in to unmask] > wrote: 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>  
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