Wednesday 10 February 2010

...And the living is easy

"If you are going to think black, think positive about it. Don't think down on it, or think it is something in your way. And this way, when you really do want to stretch out, and express how beautiful black is, everybody will hear you."

Happy 83rd birthday today to the diva Leontyne Price, the first black person to become a leading primadonna at the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Born in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, like so many singers she was discovered while singing in a church choir. With the help of none other than the remarkable Paul Robeson, she made the move to New York and eventually auditioned for one of the world's biggest conductors, Herbert von Karajan. The world fell in love with her sublime soprano voice, and she headlined in Vienna, at La Scala and at the Royal Opera House before triumphantly returning to the New York Met, where she sold out performances throughout the 1960s. By the early 80s, she was (briefly) the highest paid opera singer in the world.

Her crossover album Right as Rain, on which she collaborated with Andre Previn, is one of our favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers... is her triumphal Tosca, and her Aida:

Many happy returns to a ground-breaking woman, and a brilliant talent!

Leontyne Price on the Gramophone site

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