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Margaret Price

 

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Margaret Price
Dame Margaret Price DBE (born April 13, 1941 in Blackwood, Monmouthshire) is a Welsh soprano.

Biography
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. 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 mezzosoprano.

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. 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 travelling, 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. Afterwards, she returned to Wales and took residence in a small seaside town.

Repertoire
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), Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.

Besides 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 Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) and Ariadne (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Adriana Lecouvreur by Cilea. She kept her repertoire limited due to fear of overstraining her voice.

Price was also very active as a lieder singer; she was 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 records is the recording of Richard Wagners Tristan und Isolde conducted by Carlos Kleiber, 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.

Honours

  • Bayerische Kammersängerin
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire, (CBE), 1982
  • Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, (DBE), 1993

Margaret Price sings O Patria Mia


 

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