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Subject: a final word on Leontyne Price
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 14 Mar 2017 03:06:22 -0400
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Overlooking her extraordinarily long singing career before the public, 
and having seen her live in only a few operas, but lots of concerts and 
recitals, and being the owner of most of her recordings, It's my feeling that 
it's pretty hard to find any real fault with most of her work.  The voice was 
without peer in her time, and if she made a few miscalculations in 
repertoire choices (Thais in Chicago and Fanciulla in New York), she more 
than compensated for it in the operas she chose to undertake.  The 
miraculous preservation of her voice is amply demonstrated in her final 
Aida (and performance) at the Met in January 1985 at the age of 58, by 
which time she had been singing the role since she first performed it in 
Vancouver in 1958.  I know of no soprano who could shoulder Aida over 
the course of such  a long career.  And I'd like to know of a soprano TODAY 
who could sing Aida as well as Price still could  when she hung up her 
opera shoes in 1985.  I just watched the DVD (I have the performance in 
great sound and picture) and the audience response to "O Patria Mia" (and 
her reaction to it) is still something for the opera history books.
     My essential Price treasury:  her Madame Lidione Scene in "Carmelites" 
as presented in French on her Prima Donna III recording, her "Rondine" 
aria on her "blue album", the Awakening Scene from Strauss' "The 
Egyptian Helen", Marietta's Lied from "Die Tote Shtadt", her "Como 
Scoglio" from "Cosi Fan Tutte", Donna Anna's "Non mi dir" (from Salzburg 
in 1960 with Schwarzkopf's Elvira, and "Du Bist Der Lenz" from Die 
Walkure.  
     She was fluent in sung English, French, and German, and she sang in 
all of those languages.  She had and preserved a magnificent vocal 
instrument.  Of course, a certain hoarseness and a bit of fog crept into the 
lower register in the 1970s, but when one looks at the overall track record 
and the "complete package", it's pretty hard to find serious fault with one 
of the smartest sopranos in opera history, who managed her career with a 
shrewdness and panache that was second to none.  I doubt whether we will 
encounter her like again.  What a life!  What a career!

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