Rhapsody in Black

Soprano Leontyne Price is an opera legend

Leontyne Price as Leonore in a Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino".James Heffernan, Metropolitan Opera Archives

Rhapsody in Black - Leontyne Price


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January 05, 2023

Soprano Leontyne Price has many firsts in the opera world and among those accolades came fame. She was the first Black opera star to reach international fame, the first Black woman to sing opera on national television and the first Black woman to sing a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera. She later used her fame and influence to fight racism on her terms.

Musical selections from Leontyne Price

"Ritorna Vincitor" from Giuseppe Verdi's Aida

The role of Aida in the same-named opera was one of her first performances with the Metropolitan Opera during its 1961 season. She went on to reprise the role many times, and it’s one of her favorites to sing. For her last performance at the Met Opera in 1985, she performed as Adia, saying, “I want to go out as the glorious Ethiopian Aida. She is not a slave at all. She is a captive princess — she is of noble blood.”

“Song to the Moon” from Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka

This beautiful rendition of “Song To The Moon” displays her mastery of singing nonstandard opera languages. In the opera, she performs as the water nymph Rusalka, asking the moon to show her love to the prince.

“America the Beautiful”

Price always gave back to the community and helped the future generation of opera singers flourish. One such example is her singing “America the Beautiful” with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. It was for the album A Salute to American Music, which raised money to support American opera singers in their training and start of their careers.


Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher