- Leontyne Price was born in 1927 in Laurel, Mississippi.
- She learned to play the piano when she was very young. In high school she became known as a powerful vocal talent.
- After college she studied voice at Juilliard School in New York City on a full scholarship
- Shortly after leaving Juilliard, she was cast in her first professional performances: 1950s revivals of Fair Saints in Three Acts and Porgy and Bess.
- January 27, 1961, Leontyne Price sang for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
- For her performance as Leonora in Verdi’s II Travatore, she received rave reviews and a forty-minute ovation.
- Price went on to sing more than 200 performances in sixteen different roles with the Met.
- In 1985, she officially retired from the stage but continued to appear in recitals.
- Leontyne Price gave her last performance on October 2001 at a memorial concert for 9/11 victims.
- Her vocal career which lasted nearly fifty years included world tours, television appearances, and numerous awards, including thirteen Grammy Awards.
- Eakins Press Foundation
- Photograph by Jack Mitchell from Wikipedia
Leontyne Price’s soprano voice took her from the “second choir” at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Laurel, Mississippi, to international opera stages, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She sang the great roles of nineteenth and twentieth century opera but felt a special connection to roles in works by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, and W.A. Mozart, especially ll Travatore and Aida.
She was born in 1927 in Laurel, Mississippi. Price grew up in a musical household, her father played tuba and her mother sang in the church choir. Her parents encouraged their daughter’s musical interests by giving her a toy piano and lessons when she was very young. She played piano for school functions at Oak Park Vocational High School in Laurel, Mississippi, and became known as a powerful vocal talent. She intended to become a public school music teacher when she enrolled at a teacher’s college in Ohio in 1944. However, when the president of the school overheard her singing, he convinced her to study voice. After graduating in 1948, Price studied at the Juilliard School in New York City on full scholarship, with living expenses covered by a wealthy benefactor from her hometown. After hearing her sing, Robeson gave a benefit concert that raised a thousand dollars for Price’s education.
Shortly after leaving Juilliard, Price was cast in her first professional stage performances: the 1950s revivals of Gertrude Stein’s and Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts and of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Thomson first saw Price in a student production of Falstaff and immediately cast her for his opera. In 1955, she made her television debut in the NBC-TV Opera Company production of Puccini’s Tosca. Two years later she made her live opera debut in San Francisco as Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.
On January 27, 1961, Price sang for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Her performance as Leonora in Verdi’s ll Travatore received rave reviews and a forty-minute ovation, one of the longest in Met history. In 1966 she sang the female lead in the Met’s world premiere production of Samuel Barber’s Anthony and Cleopatra. Price went on to sing more than 200 performances in sixteen different roles with the Met, the first African American to have such an extended relationship with the company. In 1985, she officially retired from the stage, but continued to appear in recitals. She gave her last performance in October 2001 at a memorial concert for 9/11 victims. Her vocal career, which lasted nearly fifty years included world tours, television appearances, and numerous awards, including thirteen Grammy Awards.
In the early 1950s, Price married the noted bass-baritone William Warfield. He wrote in his memoir that their careers forced them apart. They were divorced in 1973. They had no children.
1.Eakins Press Foundation