Greg Darlin’

Leontyne Price 3

My Weekend with Leontyne Price

Greg Stanford

The great American soprano Leontyne Price was among the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honor in 1980, the third annual Kennedy Center Honors presentation and gala. Her fellow recipients were Leonard Bernstein, James Cagney, Agnes DeMille and Lynn Fontanne. While most of the honorees come with a personal guest, the Kennedy Center provides an escort for each recipient for the weekend, from pickup at the airport to the return. This person is normally a Kennedy Center employee, preferably one with a knowledge and appreciation of the artist in his or her charge. It was my good fortune to be that person for Leontyne Price, a singer I had long admired. At the very least, I considered her one of the two greatest Verdi sopranos of the Twentieth Century, alongside the long retired Rosa Ponselle, who had walked away from her career at forty in the mid 1930’s. Continue reading Greg Darlin’

Pasteboard Masks

moby-dick 

The Book of Job is a play removed from the historical agenda of the Jews. Job is not a Jew but rather from the land of Uz. This device allows the author to address the caprices of God and not deprive himself of an audience, or (more to the point) engage one heavy with stones. The prologue acquaints us with Job’s piety, his assets and family. During a sacred oblation the scene shifts to Heaven. Satan drops by for a chat. God sets the plot in motion: “Hath thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him on the Earth – a perfect and upright man.” Satan takes the bait. He suggests, Job appears saintly because God has put a protective hedge about him. God demurs but allows Satan to take his best shot: “Behold all that he hath is in thy power.” Life becomes more difficult for the unsuspecting Uzzite. Marauding Chaldeans slaughter most of his herds and herdsmen. Job is thankful for the shepherds and sheep that were spared. A fire falls from the sky consuming them each. He takes solace in his family. His sons are killed in the collapse of his brother’s house. Job is stoical: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Continue reading Pasteboard Masks