American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Antony and Cleopatra as Opera

Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Opening of Act III of Antony and Cleopatra, op. 40, 1966
Holograph manuscript
Music Division (15)

Leontyne Price (b. 1927) as Cleopatra
Louis Mélançon, photographer.
Leontyne Price (b. 1927) as Cleopatra, 1966
New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Collection
Prints & Photographs Division
Courtesy of Leontyne Price (16.1)

Samuel Barber's second full-length opera, Antony and Cleopatra, was commissioned for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House on September 16, 1966. The libretto, based on Barber's favorite Shakespeare play, was fashioned by the composer and Franco Zeffirelli (b. 1923), who also directed the opera. More than 3,800 spectators attended the premiere, which featured Leontyne Price as Cleopatra and Justino Díaz (b. 1940) as Antony. In 1968, Barber reworked Cleopatra's arias, including "Give me my Robe," shown here, into a concert scene for soprano. Price often performed the arrangement in concert as well as recording it.

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