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Leontyne Price The African-American I have chosen is Leontyne Price She was raised in the colored section of Laurel Mississippi She has been described as a lirico-spinto soprano Her rock-solid vocal technique and purity and her dramatic flair have been combined to create a mix suitable both for the opera and concert stage She first started singing at area social events After attending Central State University she went to Julliard While attending Julliard she appeared in revivals of Gershwins Porgy and Bess and Four Saints in Three Acts by Virgil Thomson The Porgy and Bess cast toured the United States and Europe with baritone William Warfield and Price singing the title roles Price was engaged to sing the lead for the National Broadcasting Companys production of Puccinis Tosca in 1955 Even though there were strenuous objections and some cancellations from local affiliates her dramatic portrayal and vocal performance in this historic broadcast were a critical success Other televised operatic roles soon followed Price sang Verdis Aida for the first time in 1957 She identified strongly with the character Her success led her to Vienna to sing for conductor Herbert von Karajan and in 1960 to the stage of La Scala In January 1961 she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Leonora in Verdis Il Trovatore Her performance was a success to the audience who witnessed it and to the New York critics as well There she was signed for additional roles and at other houses around the world By the mid 1960s her reputation had grown to the point that she was offered the lead in the Samuel Barber opera commissioned especially for the opening of the Mets new facilities at Lincoln Center Though spoiled by the extremes taken in costuming and staging the opening performance of Antony and Cleopatra solidified Prices place as one of the worlds great divas Prices notoriety allowed her the freedom to select roles she wanted often taking rests
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