SONY 531134 (22 disks)

With more than 200 performances at the Met, Leontyne Price is indeed a grand diva. She made her Met debut January 27, 1961 in Il trovatore; Franco Corelli made his Met debut the same evening. It was an exciting night of opera for sure—I was fortunate enough to be there! A performance a month later was broadcast and is available on Sony. That first season at the Met was adventurous for Price; she also sang Aïda, Butterfly, Donna Anna and Liu in the famous Stokowski/Nilsson/Corelli Turandot. Her single disappointment was La fanciulla del west, a role not suited for her.

Her final staged appearance at the Met was January 3, 1985 in which she proved she still was the choice Aïda. Some of this remarkable performance can be seen on YouTube—Grand Opera indeed.To see her sing O patria mia so magnificently is thrilling! Actually, this was not her final Met performance—she also sang in a Mozart concert conducted by James Levine.

Now Sony has issued this splendid inexpensive set of all of her complete studio opera recordings:recordings for RCA. This is being issued to commemorate Price's 90th Birthday in Mach 2017. Here is a list of the operas, all recorded during her finest years:

BIZET: Carmen (with Franco Corelli, Robert Merrill, Mirella Freni/Herbert von Karajan, cond. (rec. 1963)

MOZART: Cosi fan tutte (with Sherrill Milnes, Judith Raskin, Tatiana Troyanos, Ezio Fagello and George Shirley/Erich Leinsdorf conducting.(rec. 1967)

VERDI: Ernani (with Carlo Bergonzi, Mario Sereni, Ezio Flagello/ Thomas Schippers, cond.) (rec. 1967)VERDI: Aïda (with Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Grace Bumbry, Hans Sotin/Erich Leinsdorf cond.) (rec. 1970)

VERDI: Il trovatrore (with Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Fiorenza Cossotto/Zubin Mehta, cond.).

VERDI: Un ballo en maschera (with Robert Merrill, Shirley Verrett and Carlo Bergonzi; Erich Leinsdorf cond.

PUCCINI: Tosca (with Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes/Zubin Mehta, cond. (rec. 1972)

VERDI: La forza del destino (with Shirley Verrett, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Giorgio Tozzi/Thomas Schippers, cond.

PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly (with Richard Tucker, Rosalind Elise, Philip Maero/Piero de Palma/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.

.PUCCINI: Il tabarro (with Placido Domingo, Erich Leinsdorf, cond.

All of these have been digitally remastered and sound better than previous releases. Complete libretti are provided. This is amazing value for the collector. Even if you have several of these from earlier issues, they sound better in this new set. Remarkable!

Admirers of Leontyne Price should keep in mind that some of her recordings are included in RCA;s new Living Stereo series, and she also recorded for other labels: Aida with Solti, Tosca and Il trovatore with Karajan,


R,E.B. (October 2016)