Included are her earliest recorded Aïda, three Puccini operas—Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Manon Lescaut—in addition to two concert works: Honneger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bucher and the Rossini Stabat Mater, plus eight bonus arias that Price rarely sang in public, from Handel to Giordano, and including “Tu che le vanità” from Don Carlo and Isolde’s Liebestod.
I only heard Price twice in person. The first was at the 25th Anniversary Gala of Lyric Opera of Chicago during which she performed “Ritorna vincitor” after being introduced by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf! A complete broadcast of that special occasion can be heard here.
Five years later and two months before her Met farewell as Aïda, I attended a recital by Price in my hometown’s cavernous Memorial Hall. I had given up on staged opera in Dayton years earlier, so it was pretty thrilling to hear one of the biggest stars in her jam-packed local appearance. 1984 proved to be an atypical Dayton diva year as Marilyn Horne too appeared in recital five months earlier. I apologize for Ohio audiences as you will hear them applaud after individual movements in the Cincinnati May Festival Stabat Mater, a work Price didn’t sing often.
An apocryphal story has made the rounds that toward the end of her career Price would instruct her management to arrange for 10 recitals per year at a fee of $100,000 each. I have no idea if she actually commanded that sort of fee but it speaks to a superstar status that few have attained before or since.
Except for the Honegger broadcast with Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein, nearly all of today’s offerings are “pirate” in-house recordings, so some special indulgence is asked for their sound quality. In addition, the Aïda. Butterfly and Tosca are each missing bits of music.
The Philadelphia Aïda took place two months prior to her Met debut and is an early collaboration with Carlo Bergonzi with whom Price sang often at the Met. It might appear to be a typical Met cast for the time except that the Ramfis is Norman Treigle and the conductor Julius Rudel. The San Francisco Butterfly comes from later in that Met debut year and is only one of two live Price Cio-Cio-Sans I’ve encountered; the other comes from the Met 12 years later.
Price first sang Puccini’s Manon in San Francisco in fall 1974; during the same season she brought it to the Met. She sang just four performances and the broadcast went to Dorothy Kirsten. I wonder if John Alexander was Price’s originally scheduled Des Grieux?
The excerpt from Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae runs nearly eighteen minutes, much longer than the chunk available on YouTube.
Honneger: Jeanne d’Arc au Bucher
Joan of Arc: Felicia Montealegre
Brother Dominic: Martial Singher
The Virgin: Adele Addison
Margaret: Leontyne Price
Catherine: Frances Bible
A Voice, John of Luxembourg, Regnault of Chartres, Porcus,
First Herald: David Lloyd
William of Flavy, A Voice, Second Herald: Lorenzo Alvary
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
New York Philharmonic
27 April 1958
Aïda: Leontyne Price
Amneris: Irene Dalis
Priestess: Eva Nir
Radames: Carlo Bergonzi
Amonasro: Anselmo Colzani
Ramfis: Norman Treigle
Pharaoh: John Macurdy
Messenger: Orrin Hill
Conductor: Julius Rudel
Philadelphia Lyric Opera
November 11, 1960
Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Cio-Cio-San: Leontyne Price
Suzuki: Mildred Miller
Kate Pinkerton: Margot Blum
Lt. B. F. Pinkerton: Sandor Konya
Sharpless: Vladimir Ruzdak
Goro: Howard Fried
The Bonze: Joshua Hecht
Prince Yamadori: Raymond Nilsson
Conductor: Kurt Herbert Adler
San Francisco Opera
22 September 1961
Puccini: Tosca (slightly abridged)
Tosca – Leontyne Price
Cavaradossi – Flaviano Labó
Scarpia – Giuseppe Taddei
Sacristan: Erich Kunz
Angelotti – Nicola Zaccaria
Spoletta – Erich Majkut
Sciaronne – Harald Pröglhö
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
10 June 1964
Rossini: Stabat Mater
Conductor: Julius Rudel
Cincinnati May Festival
14 May 1971
Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Manon: Leontyne Price
Solo Madrigalist: Marcia Baldwin
Des Grieux: John Alexander
Lescaut: William Walker
Geronte: Fernando Corena
Edmondo: Jon Garrison
Conductor: Peter Herman Adler
7 February 1975
A Leontyne Miscellany: Arias with Orchestra in Concert
1958 Handel: Amadigi & Giordano: Andrea Chénier
1959 R. Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae
1975 Verdi: Don Carlo; Massenet: Thaïs; Verdi: La Traviata
1979 Mozart: Idomeneo
1985 Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Two sacred works by Brahms and Bruckner with Karajan conducting remain available here.
Her spectacular all-star Buenos Aires Il Trovatore with Fiorenza Cossotto, Bergonzi and Piero Cappuccilli can be heard here.
Each Price performance track can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.
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