V0668. LEONTYNE PRICE, w.SAMUEL BARBER (Pf.): Songs by Poulenc, Sauguet, Fauré & Barber, Live Performance, 30 Oct., 1953, Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress; SAMUEL BARBER (Self-Accompanied): Songs by C.P.E. Bach, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms & Schubert; Six Folk Songs, Live Performance, 26 Dec., 1938, Curtis Institute of Music. Bridge 9156. - 090404915628
“After earning her degree from College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce, OH (where she studied with Catherine Van Buren), Leontyne Price was awarded a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music where she continued vocal training with Florence Page Kimball. Upon hearing her there, Virgil Thomson invited her to sing Saint Cecilia in the 1952 revival of his FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS. She then toured the United States and Europe as Bess in Gershwin's PORGY AND BESS (1952-1955); on this tour she met and married bass-baritone William Warfield who was singing the role of Porgy.
In October 1953, Price sang the premiere of Samuel Barber's HERMIT SONGS at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and she gave her first New York recital in November 1954. In December of the same year she sang Barber's PRAYERS OF KIERKEGAARD with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Her appearances in TOSCA, DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES and DON GIOVANNI on television brought her to wide attention for both her outstanding singing, and for being the first African-American leading soprano of note.
In the following seasons, she made her débuts at San Francisco, Chicago, Vienna, London, and Milan. This culminated in her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House as Leonore in IL TROVATORE, an evening that garnered a front page review in The New York Times. The Metropolitan would soon become her favored opera house; she sang most of her wide repertoire there, including Aïda, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Leonore in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, ERNANI, Amelia in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Donna Anna (DON GIOVANNI), Pamina (DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE), Fiorgiligi (COSÌ), Ariadne (ARIADNE AUF NAXOS), and Tatiana in EUGENE ONÉGIN. She sang her last operatic performance there in 1985 as Aïda.
Leontyne Price's voice was a spinto soprano of great beauty. She had a wonderful feeling for the sweep of the long phrases of Verdi and her technique allowed her to encompass all of the difficulties of Donna Anna (DON GIOVANNI) and Elvira (ERNANI). Her lower register had a quality often described as ‘dusky’ which many listeners found quite sensual. Most of her important operatic roles were recorded by RCA, but only a small fraction of her recital repertoire found its way onto disc. Leontyne Price will always be remembered as one of the greatest Verdi sopranos of the twentieth century.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com