Soprano Margaret Price
One of the most sheerly beautiful soprano voices to have emerged in the last half-century, equally at home in Mozart and Wagner.
About one of the Welsh-born soprano’s many Wigmore Hall appearances, I waxed lyrical in The Guardian that she was perhaps ‘the most complete soprano of our time’. I don’t regret it. Anyone who can encompass Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, Verdi and Lieder with equal command well deserves the accolade. Price could easily manage the more florid aspects of Mozart’s Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and his most brilliant concert arias, and although she never sang Wagner’s Isolde on stage, her recording with Carlos Kleiber matches incandescent tone with text-conscious intelligence. She could sometimes seem a shade detached, and came a cropper performing the notoriously difficult role of Bellini’s Norma at Covent Garden, but the beauty of tone remained in performances throughout the 1990s, including an unforgettable Tove in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder in Paris. Choosing one recording is a hard choice; her Schubert or Strauss Lieder, Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera or her two Mozart arias discs for RCA deserve equal honours alongside her Isolde.
In her own words: ‘I initially said no to Donna Anna in Don Giovanni because I thought it was too heavy – the tessitura is treacherously high – but in the end I accepted the part and it made my career.’
Greatest recording: Wagner: Tristan und Isolde cond. Carlos Kleiber DG 477 5355 (3 discs) £22.99