Film / TVMusic

documentary on the metropolitan opera brings the legendary life of singer leontyne price to the big screen

December 26, 2017
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Opera has long been considered a white man’s enterprise, largely because of its high-society reputation and pricing. Even still, some of its most powerful vocalists have been Black, as is the case of soprano Leontyne Price, who, 20 years after retiring, gets to see her acclaimed career on the big screen with Susan Froemke’s new documentary The Opera House.

Telling the story of the building and inauguration of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966, the film is one to watch. Now at 90, Ms. Price steals the show, according to the New York Times, which reports that she “she dominates the documentary.”

Having been at the renowned Opera house since its very beginning, Price went as many trials as she did triumphs as a Black woman with an undeniable voice. In 1955, the NBC Opera Theater, a TV series that broadcast live opera stagings, chose Ms. Price to sing the title role of Puccini’s Tosca. This was “a breakthrough for me,” explains in the film, “My state didn’t carry it.” According to NPR, many NBC affiliates in the South refused to show a program featuring a Black Tosca with a white lover.

Still, Price embraced her Blackness, claiming, “One of the things about this extraordinary instrument that I have is the Blackness in it, the natural flavor. It’s something extra.”

The film will be screened next month across Canada and the United States, including at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

Here Leontyne Price sing “Give me my robe” from Antony & Cleopatra below!: