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Leontyne Price

@ National Portrait Gallery


With a voice that routinely brought audiences to their feet, soprano Leontyne Price was the first African American opera singer to achieve stardom at home and on the international stage. Following vocal studies at the Juilliard School, Price earned glowing reviews in 1952 for her performance as Bess in a popular revival of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. She followed this success by starring in NBC's 1955 production of Tosca, becoming the first black singer to appear in an opera telecast. Her career steadily gained momentum with acclaimed performances in opera venues from San Francisco to Milan. In 1961, when she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore, Price received a thunderous, forty-two minute ovation. For years she remained one of the Met's brightest stars, as well as one of the opera world's most admired performers.
Gelatin Silver Print
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution