Leotyn Biography

Topics: Porgy and Bess, Leontyne Price, Metropolitan Opera Pages: 2 (624 words) Published: April 21, 2010
600+ Word Biography:
Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price is an American operatic soprano was born on February 10, 1927, in Laurel, Mississippi. Her full name is Mary Violet Leotyne Price. Leotyne was born in the segregated Deep South, also commonly referred to as the Lower South or the "Cotton States". She rose to international fame during a period of racial change in the 1950s and 60s, and was the first African-American to become a leading prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera.

Leontyne's first important stage performance was as Mistress Ford in a 1952 student production of Verdi's Falstaff. Shortly after, Virgil Thomson hired her for the revival of his all-black opera, Four Saints in Three Acts. After a two-week Broadway run, the Saints went to Paris. Meanwhile, she had been cast as Bess in the Blevins Davis/Robert Breen revival of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and returned for the opening of the national tour at the Dallas State Fair, on June 9, 1952. The tour visited Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C, and then went on a tour of Europe, sponsored by the U.S. State Department. After appearing in Vienna, Berlin, London, and Paris, the company returned to New York when Broadway's Ziegfield Theater became available for a surprise show.

On the eve of the European tour, Leontyne had married the man singing Porgy, William Warfield, at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, with many in the cast in attendance. In his memoir, My Music and My Life, Warfield describes how their careers forced them apart. They were legally separated in 1967, and divorced in 1973. After this, Leontyne had planned on a recital career, modeling herself after contralto Marian Anderson, tenor Roland Hayes, Warfield, and other great black concert singers.

In November 1954, Price made her recital debut at New York's Town Hall with a program that featured the New York premiere of Samuel Barber's "Hermit Songs", with the composer at the piano. Then, opera opened...
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