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Leontyne Price


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Wikipedia says:
“Mary Violet Leontyne Price (b. February 10, 1927) is an opera singer (soprano). She was best known for her Verdi roles, above all Aida, a role that she is said to have “owned” for almost 30 years. Her rise to international fame was one of several breakthroughs by African Americans in the 1960s, and a high water mark for American classical singing. In an extraordinary generation of great singers that included Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson and Montserrat Caballe, Price reigned in the lirico-spinto (Italian for “pushed lyric”) roles of Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart. Her soprano was notable for its rich, seamless, sometimes husky, emotionally vibrant sound. Her voice ranged from A below Middle C to the D above High C.
She is also a witty woman whose many bon mots have entered opera lore. Once, when she was appearing in Atlanta in the cowgirl role of Minnie in Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West,” she was told she could not stay at the whites-only hotel with the rest of the Met company. She looked at the general manager and said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Bing, I’m sure you can find a place for me and the horse.”
Price was born in a segregated black neighborhood of Laurel, Mississippi. Her father worked in a lumber mill and her mother was a midwife with a rich singing voice. When Leontyne’s musical talent showed itself early, her parents traded in the family phonograph for a small toy piano for her to play.


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