Margaret Price RIP
The Welsh soprano Margaret Price died today, aged 69.
Updated: My obituary of Dame Margaret Price in Tuesday's Washington Post.
Price was a brilliant Mozart soprano, and sang a number of Verdi roles, but for me the role she was born to sing was Desdemona in Verdi's "Otello." I remember seeing my first Otellos at the Met in what I now learn was her debut with the company (in 1985 I was not yet writing professionally about opera, and such facts tended to elude me from my favored post in Family Circle standing room). I thought she was radiant. I went back several times, as young people in standing room are wont to do, and it wasn't until my third or fourth performance that I scored a ticket in the orchestra and realized that Ms. Price was not, physically, quite the sylph-like young thing I had perceived from the very back of the house. Of course that didn't matter; she sang the role like an angel.
This impression was born out years later when I heard her in an opera concert in Munich singing Verdi arias. Desdemona's Act IV scene is not an ideal concert aria: it's long and can verge, in the wrong voice, on the lugubrious (that's a lot of wounded innocence for one scene). Dame Margaret had acquitted herself fairly well until that point in the evening; but when she sang Desdemona, time simply stopped. It was the outstanding moment of the evening.
I heard her do other things, over the years, but never lost the idea that the ideal role for her vocal weight, her quality of freshness, was Desdemona.
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