- NAME: Leontyne Price
- OCCUPATION: Singer
- BIRTH DATE: February 10, 1927 (Age: 86)
- Did You Know?: Leontyne Price is widely regarded as the first African-American singer to gain international reputation in opera.
- Did You Know?: Leontyne Price briefly came out of retirement to sing at a Carnegie Hall concert for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in October 2001.
- EDUCATION: College of Education and Industrial Arts, The Juilliard School, Oak Park Vocational High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Laurel, Mississippi
- Full Name: Mary Violet Leontyne Price
- AKA: Leontyne Price
- ZODIAC SIGN: Aquarius
Best Known For
Leontyne Price is widely regarded as the first African American to gain international acclaim as a professional opera singer.
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Leontyne Price was born on February 10, 1927, in Laurel, Mississippi. Renowned for her early stage and television work, Price made her opera stage debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1957, and her debut at New York City's Metropolitan Opera House in 1961. Widely regarded as the first African-American singer to earn international acclaim in opera, Price is known for her roles in Il Trovatore, Antony and Cleopatra and Aida.
"Accomplishments have no color."
Mary Violet Leontyne Price was born on February 10, 1927, in Laurel, Mississippi, to James Anthony Price, a carpenter, and Kate Baker Price, a midwife with a beautiful singing voice. Price showed an interest in music from a young age and was encouraged by her parents. After beginning formal music training at age 5, she spent much of her time singing in the choir at St. Paul Methodist Church in her hometown.
Following her time at Oak Park Vocational High School, where she was a standout pianist and member of the glee club, Price enrolled at the College of Education and Industrial Arts in Wilberforce, Ohio. She began her studies focusing on music education, but was later encouraged by faculty to switch her concentration to voice. After graduation, Price headed to New York City to attend The Juilliard School on a full scholarship.
At Juilliard, Price studied under the tutelage of her beloved vocal instructor, Florence Page Kimball. Price's beautiful lyric soprano voice landed her feature roles in many of the school's operas. After witnessing Price perform the role of Alice Ford in a student production of Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff, composer Virgil Thomson leapt at the chance to bring her into one of his productions.
In April 1952, Leontyne Price made her Broadway debut as St. Cecilia in the revival of Thompsen's Four Saints in Three Acts. Immediately following the show's three-week engagement, she was cast in a touring production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. For the next two years, Price dazzled audiences with her stunning portrayal of Bess, gaining acclaim with her flawless vocal interpretations. During her tour with the show, she married co-star William Warfield, who portrayed Porgy.
In 1955, Price starred in the NBC Opera Theatre's television production of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca. This performance led to a string of TV operas featuring the budding starlet.
In her opera stage debut at the San Francisco Opera House in 1957, Price took on the role of Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulnec's Dialogues of the Carmelites. The moving performance marked the commencement of her rise to fame in the serious opera community. By 1958, Price was wowing European audiences at such famous venues as the Covent Garden in England and La Scala in Milan. She had reached stardom at home as well as on an international level.
Price's debut at the New York City's Metropolitan Opera House in 1961 as Lenora in Il Trovatore was such a success, it marked the beginning of her residency as one of the opera's principle sopranos.
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