One of my favourite sopranos has always been Leontyne Price, born on this day in 1927. The perfect voice for middle period Verdi heroines, her wonderful sense of musical line coupled with a seductive timbre made her one of the most sought after lyrico spinto soprano's of her generation.
She's been seen as a role model for Afro-American singers and indeed was the first to command the Met's top fee, comparable to the other top ranking divas of the time including Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi. Her popularity crossed the Atlantic and she was extremely popular in Europe, in particular Vienna where she worked extensively with Herbert von Karajan.
Here she is in the role which above all others probably defined her career - Giuseppe Verdi's Ethiopian Princess, Aida. She recorded the role twice and there are a couple of recorded live performances on film which are available, this is an early television performance.
I have many of her recordings, both complete operas and her recital discs. While I do adore her Tosca, Aida, and both Leonoras, I have to admit my very favourite of Price is her Richard Strauss recital disc. Here is the 'Awakening Scene' from the composer's Die Frau Ohne Schatten, couple this with a radiant final scene from Salome and you have a disc of pure Straussian beauty.