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February 11, 2012

Belated birthday wishes for Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price turned 85 on Friday. I should have stopped what I was doing that day to make note of the occasion, but will try to make amends now.

No singer I have experienced live sent more chills and thrills through me than Miss Price. Something in the timbre is pure magic; something in the phrasing is extraordinarily communicative and meaningful; something in the bearing says "diva" in the best sense of the word.

You will remember Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" summing up the glorious days of silent movies: "We had faces!" Whenever I hear Miss Price, I think how ...

she so nobly represents a peak of vocal art during a time that could be described with the line: They had voices!

This soprano has lived for art, just like Tosca, so I had to include Miss Price singing "Vissi da'arte" fabulously. And I couldn't resist a modern take on that sentiment -- her sumptuous performance of "What I Did for Love."

Many happy returns, Miss Price.

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog
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