Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dame Margaret Price, Soprano, Dies at 69

Dame Margaret Berenice Price,DBE (April 13, 1941, Blackwood, Monmouthshire - January 28, 2011) is a Welsh soprano. Price, who came from a music-loving family, started singing for pleasure early in her life. She originally did not plan on making a career out of her talent; she dreamed of becoming a biology teacher instead as teaching was in her family. At the age of 15, her school music teacher organised an audition with Charles Kennedy Scott who convinced her to study with him at Trinity College of Music in London and obtained a scholarship for her. Over the next few years, Price was trained as a mezzo-soprano. After graduation, she joined the Ambrosian Singers, but was reluctant to enter singing competitions. Her father was largely responsible for her discovery: He aggressively campaigned on her behalf to various opera companies. Price made her operatic debut in 1962, singing Cherubino in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Welsh National Opera. That same year, Price joined the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden, where she sang minor roles. Her breakthrough came when Teresa Berganza canceled a performance, and Price got the chance to take over as her understudy - again in the role of Cherubino, a performance that made her famous over night. The conductor and pianist James Lockhart convinced Price to take further singing lessons to improve her technique and develop the luminous high scale that made her one of the most popular lyric sopranos of the 1970s and 1980s. Price also found support from Otto Klemperer, who conducted her first recording of a major role in a complete opera - Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte.

A sampling of the soprano's discography. Note the several variations of the Mozart Concert Arias covers.
The 1972 recording established Price as a Mozart specialist. In the years that followed, Price appeared as a guest at important opera houses. Her Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1985 as Desdemona in Giuseppe Verdi's Otello. As Price did not enjoy traveling, she always kept a "home" stage, where she stayed and performed for the majority of each year - first Covent Garden, then Cologne, and since 1971 the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where she lived until retirement in 1999. Price was most famous for her Mozart-portraits, especially Fiordiligi, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro (after having sung Cherubino and Barbarina at the beginning of her career), and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Additionally, she sang Verdi-roles, such as Amelia (Un ballo in maschera, a role she also performed on record with Luciano Pavarotti), Elisabetta (Don Carlo) and Desdemona (Otello), her debut role at the Met, Richard Strauss's Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Adriana Lecouvreur by Cilea. Price was also very active as a lieder singer, equally at home in the romantic idiom of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann or Richard Strauss, and that of the Second Viennese School. During her career, Price made many recordings of operas and of lieder. One of her most famous recordings is the Isolde in Carlos Kleiber's complete recording of Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, a role she never sang on stage. Price was a Kammersängerin of the Bavarian State Opera and the Vienna State Opera. She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to music in 1993, Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1982 and Bayerische Kammersängerin. Her cousin Marteine Richards said Dame Margaret died at her home in the village of Moyle Grove, near Cardigan, West Wales, on Friday morning of January 28, 2011. [Source]

"Elegia Eterna" (Granados)

"Beim Schlafengehen" Vier Letzte Lieder (Strauss), Royal Festival Hall 1981, London Symphony Orchestra, conductor Andre Previn

"Phydilé" (Duparc), 1983, James Lockhart, piano

"Signora ascolta" Turandot (Puccini), Münchner Rundfunkorchester 1992, conducted by Roberto Abbado

"Almen se non poss'io" (Bellini)

"Si, mi chiamano Mimì" La Bohème (Puccini), Münchner Rundfunkorchester 1986, coductor Thomas Fulton

"Mild und leise, wie er lächelt" Tristan und Isolde (Wagner), Staatskapelle Dresden 1990, conducted by Carlos Kleiber

"Io son l'umile ancella" Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea), San Francisco, conducted by Kurt Herbert Adler

Die junge Nonne" (Schubert), Graham Johnson, piano

"Leise, leise" Der Freischütz (Weber), Rome 1973

"Chanson triste" (Duparc), 1983, James Lockhart, piano

"Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio" (Mozart), London Philharmonic Orchestra 1976, conducted by James Lockhart

"Ave Maria" Otello (Verdi), Paris 1976

Dame Margaret in Ceibwr Bay, Wales, with her five golden retrievers, Tara, Carlos, Pamina,
Susanna and Tanya (Photo: Malcolm Crowthers/Opera News)

No comments:

Post a Comment