Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leontyne Price: Aida’s ‘O Patria Mia’ (1985)

In Verdi’s Aida, Leontyne Price performs an incomparable “O patria mia” (Act 3) at The Met, conducted by James Levine, on January 3, 1985, in NYC. This was her farewell performance; and to say that this is laden with emotion is to say what is necessary, but not enough. The performance ended with 25 minutes of applause. It has been said that Price past her prime is better than most today in their prime, more a testament to her voice and stage presence than anything else. You can hear the “love” in her voice. At least I can.

Here is what Donald Henahan of The New York Times wrote of this event in history (“Leontyne Price‘s Final Stage Performance;”January 4, 1985):
THE farewell appearances of great singers are generally exercises in patience for their admirers. Happy to say, last night's performance of ''A"ida'' at the Metropolitan, billed in the program as ''Leontyne Price's farewell to opera,'' might just as well have been entitled ''Patience Rewarded.'' The 57-year-old soprano took an act or two to warm to her work, but what she delivered in the Nile Scene turned out to be well worth the wait. In her most taxing aria, ''O patria mia,'' there were powerful reminders of the Price that we remember best and want to remember, a Price beyond pearls. It was, intermittently but often enough to make the evening a memorable event, the singing of an artist of distinctive vocal timbre and personality.

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