V0489. LEONTYNE PRICE, w.Carlo Franci Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks Orch.: Arias from Der Freischütz, Nozze, L'Africaine, Louise, Ernani, La Rondine, Suor Angelica, Die Ägyptische Helena & Porgy & Bess - Live Performance, 27 Jan., 1968, München; w.Seiji Ozawa Cond. San Francisco S. O.: Arias from Cosi, Don Carlos, L'Enfant Prodigue, Adriana Lecouvreur & Tosca - Live Performance, 23 Jan., 1973. [A remarkably beautiful recital disk. The portions from Munich are a treasure with Price in extraordinary voice. No wonder that the Ernani aria was interrupted midway by a most emotive aucience!] (Portugal) Gala 328.
"Leontyne Price made no commercial recordings superior to those heard on this budget-priced Gala CD, recorded live with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, Carlo Franci conducting. On January 27, 1968, in Munich, Price was in glorious voice for arias from L'Africaine, The Marriage of Figaro, Der Freischütz, Suor Angelica, La Rondine, The Egyptian Helen, and Louise ('Depuis le jour' is incredibly beautiful). Verdi's 'Ernani involami' is delivered with a security and tonal beauty unheard among the current rash of sopranos, and as an encore Price tosses off 'Summertime' with the confidence of an artist who has the audience at her feet.
Also on this CD are performances with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Seiji Ozawa from a concert January 23, 1973: Arias from Cosi fan tutte, Don Carlos, L'Enfant Prodigue, Adriana Lecouvreur and Tosca. These, too, are superb, if less well recorded than the earlier recital. Wonderfully natural sound, perfectly balanced. There is extraordinary value here. Price recorded all of this music in the studio, but never better than what is heard here."
- R.E.B., Sept., 1999
"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 ZAUBERFLOTE, 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 debuts 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 Aida, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Leonore in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, ERNANI, Amelia in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Donna Anna (DON GIOVANNI), Pamina (DIE ZAUBERFLOTE), Fiorgiligi (COSI), Ariadne (ARIADNE AUF NAXOS), and Tatiana in EUGENE ONEGIN. She sang her last operatic performance there in 1985 as Aida.
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