GARY | While Maria Callas may have been known as the greatest singing actress of the ‘50s and ‘60s; Leontyne Price is generally regarded as the better singer.
Audiences will have a chance to find out, when the film “Leontyne Price Sings” is presented at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 S. Lake St., on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Larry Lapidus, Lyric Opera of Chicago lecturer and Near North Chapter program director, will introduce the documentary about the beguiling soprano.
This is the first time the movie will be shown outside of the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago.
Price’s expressive range was unparalleled, according to Lapidus. She could hit high C and D pianissimos, her projection was perfect and her musicianship faultless. Raised in the Deep South, Price was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera. Her best roles were both of Verdi’s Leonoras, Amelia in “Masked Ball,” and her historic “Aida.”
At the height of her vocal artistry she retired from the operatic stage. She is well into her 80s now and still lives in Greenwich Village.
Miller resident Lapidus feels passionate about Price’s talent. “Her voice not only had the most stunning richness and even tone, but the ‘bloom’ and the ‘bell’ has been the greatest voice to most critics and reviewers in opera,” he said. “Callas was the greatest singing actress of the 20th century but Price had the far greater and more beautiful voice.”
Lapidus delivers 15 lectures on two operas per season for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and works at the Lyric’s operashop selling merchandise and raising funds for education. “I have a tremendous feeling of gratitude for having heard her sing live at the Met in several roles in the ‘70s when I lived and worked in New York,” he reminisced. “I was lucky enough to have gotten a ticket for her last performance and ‘farewell’ at the Met in her most famous role – as ‘Aida’ in 1980.”
“Leontyne Price Sings” was put together by Lapidus and Roger Pines, dramaturg at Lyric Opera of Chicago and narrator of the documentary. It covers the soprano’s career from beginning to end and was created to raise funds for the Lyric Opera’s Near North Chapter.
“Anyone who is interested in one of the greatest opera singer of all time would want to see and hear Leontyne Price in this special film,” Lapidus said. “She was the most successful and famous African American ever to grace the stage of opera houses and recital halls here in the United States.”
The Leontyne Price lecture and film presentation will take place Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts. Admission is $12 per person, including wine and dessert. It is presented by the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District.
For more information, visit millerbeacharts.org.