Welsh soprano Margaret Price (1941-2011) died suddenly on January 28 at her home in the village of Moylegrove. Best known for her interpretation of Mozart and Verdi roles she had a luminous voice tied to a placid persona or perhaps it was shyness. I heard her sing in both New York and Chicago. At the Met she only appeared 20 times including six concert performances. She preferred to stay closer to home and was not the globe trotter that most great opera singers are.
Here is a stunning reading of Cilea’s “Io son l’umile ancella” from “Adriana Lecouvreur”. The tone is beautiful, evenly modulated throughout its range, and effortless produced. Io son l’umile ancella
Below is a video taken at the Paris Opera in 1976. Price sings the Ave Maria from the final act of Verdi’s Otello. I heard her in this role in Chicago. She was just a step behind Milanov in vocal beauty.
“Im Abendrot” is the 4th of Strauss’s Four last Songs. Price brings out the piece’s haunting beaiuty. The quotation from Strauss’s “Death and Transfiguration” written 60 years earlier – “Ist dies etwa der Tod?” (Could this then be death? – is almost unbearably poignant. Im Abendrot
Ms Price was unquestionably a great artist. She tends to be overlooked these days for reasons that are not related to the quality of her work but rather to her disposition. She was not as flamboyant has some of her contemporaries. Also to her credit is that she was a dog lover.