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Subject: Fwd: a final word on Leontyne Price
From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:00:27 -0400

text/plain (94 lines)


I hear her quite differently, in fact, but I guess I made
that clear yesterday. Her early work, pre 1967, was scrupulously
musical, and delivered with a drop dad vocal glamor that had no
equal in its time, perhaps in any time.

Unlike you and many others, I have no trouble finding serious
fault with her vocalism after the Met moved to Lincoln Center.
No, I do not think that one had anything to do with the other.

She artificially darkened the middle and lower ranges, slurred
words and music in a remarkably "catch as catch can" manner,
and her scooping into and out of notes all but destroyed my
enjoyment of her singing, except at the very top. And there, I think,
is the crux of the problem in judging her. Like Zinka Milanov,
she became a singer of moments, and those moments are treasures
that we all chrish as part of our own operatic experience.
The long line was her hallmark, and the control that she was able
to display at the top, had no equal, certainly in my experience.
But they were moments! There was a lot of unpleasant noise that
preceded and followed those "moments". We all hear vouces and
vocalism somewhat differently, and I would never deny anyone the
right to love that which they will. I simply don't agree. I hear, after
the mid sixties, a very mixed bag that often made the great moments
even more memorable than might have otherwiise been the case


On Tue, 14 Mar 2017 03:06:22 -0400, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]
<javascript:;>> wrote:

>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
>it's pretty hard to find any real fault with most of her work.  The voice
>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
>     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
>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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