Leontyne Price’s A Program of Song

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Leontyne Price

 

Mississippi in the 1920s produced some of our country’s greatest blues artists. It also produced one of our greatest operatic singers, soprano Leontyne Price. The bar she set for singers has remained high. “When I was a student I used to travel on the subway between Queens and Julliard,” remembers Renée Fleming, “literally invoking Heaven to give me her high C. And unfortunately it never worked.”

While Price is associated with the great Verdi roles, her debut recording in 1959 focused on a different vocal tradition, lieder — poems set to music. A Program of Song contains works by Richard Strauss, Gabriel Fauré, Hugo Wolf, and Francis Poulenc. “The art of the song recital has to some degree been marginalized,” Fleming says. “I think that’s a great tragedy. The combination of music and poetry in a concert setting that’s much more intimate than opera, for me, is absolute magic. And she could do both. Very few singers historically have been able to go back and forth.”

Price’s A Program of Song was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2013.

This story was produced by Ben Manilla and Devon Strolovitch for BMP audio.

Music Playlist

  1. Strauss: Allerseelen

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: RCA
  2. Wolf: Der Gärtner

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: Sony
  3. Fauré: Clair De Lune, Op. 46, No. 2

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: Sony
  4. Il trovatore, Act IV: D'amor Sull'ali Rosee

    Artist: Leontyne Price, Fausto Cleva & Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Album: Verdi: Il trovatore
    Label: Metropolitan Opera
  5. Poulenc: Miroirs Brulants - Je Nommerai Ton Front

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: Sony
  6. Strauss (R): Schlagende Herzen, Op. 29/2

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: Sony
  7. Fauré: Mandoline, Op. 58/1

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: Sony
  8. Faure: Claire de lune

    Artist: Leontyne Price
    Album: A Program of Song
    Label: RCA