Birthday greetings to stellar soprano Leontyne Price
I couldn't let Thursday pass without a birthday shout-out to the divine Leontyne Price, who turns 84.
I've written before about the impact this great American soprano made on me, just by the way she walked onstage the first time I experienced her magic live. It was only for a recital, but it felt like the grandest night at the opera. Talk about a regal bearing. Add in the radiant smile and you're talking super-majestic. And that was before she sang a note.
Once the concert began, the effect was electric, for there was in her tone the stuff of gold and steel, and in her phrasing the warmth of a genuine artist who seemed to gather everyone into a personal embrace. It was the same whenever I was fortunate enough to hear her sing. (Just a few years ago, I heard her deliver an a cappella account of "America the Beautiful" that could have melted monuments.)
Fortunately, many fabulous performances by Miss Price were preserved. I had a very tough time choosing one to offer here as a way of wishing her a happy birthday -- and saying thanks. I finally settled on
a sizzling excerpt from Strauss' "The Egyptian Helen" -- all the more amazing considering that the soprano was 64 when she sang this in 1991. Almost as much fun as the performance is the ovation afterward -- and the reaction of the late, great Beverly Sills, who was co-hosting the broadcast with the late Peter Jennings: