A Andrea Bocelli: Three Centuries of Love | New York, NY
After a recital at Myrtle Beach on February 7, Isabel Leonard sings two special Gala concerts, “Three Centuries of Love”, at the Metropolitan Opera. The performances, on February 10 and 17, honour Andrea Bocelli, who will be performing alongside Ms. Leonard, Nadine Sierra, Aida Garifullina, and a few surprise guests.
She also sings a recital in Philadelphia with pianist Ted Sperling at the Perelman Theater on March 17, but the pièce de résistance of the month is her tour with the Czech Philharmonic and conductor John Mauceri, that will celebrate the legacy of Leonard Bernstein with a program of “100 Years of Leonard Bernstein”. For a complete list of locations and dates, check below:
February 11 – Sarasota, FL
February 12 – Key Largo, FL
February 15 – Atlanta, GA
February 16 – Anniston, AL
February 18 – Opelika, AL
February 22 – Blacksburg, VA
February 23 – Fairfax, VA
February 24 – New Brunswick, NJ
February 26 – Granville, OH
February 27 – University Park, PA
February 28 – Troy, NY
March 1 – Worcester, MA
March 2 – Storrs, CT
March 3 – Greenvale, NY
March 5 – Notre Dame, IN
Upcoming recording of “Bernstein at 100”
The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood spotlighted Leonard Bernstein’s wide-ranging talents as a composer, his many gifts as a great interpreter and champion of other composers, and his role as inspiration for a new generation of musicians and music lovers across the country and around the globe. This gala concert featured a kaleidoscopic array of artists and ensembles from the worlds of classical music, film, and Broadway, like Isabel Leonard, Thomas Hampson, Audra McDonald, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadine Sierra and Susan Graham among others.
This luxury recording features a program devoted to selections from such brilliant Bernstein works as Candide, West Side Story, Mass, and his Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for violin and orchestra, a new work by John Williams, which focuses on classical repertoire particularly dear to Bernstein’s heart, including excerpts from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and, for a dramatic close, the finale of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.
This blu-ray is available for pre-order from the Boston Symphony Orchestra Store and will be shipped early December.
IN THE PRESS
Imagista: You obviously have a remarkable, even enviable, talent as a singer and performer. At what age did you know you possessed this talent and at what age did you decided to pursue a career as an Opera singer?
Isabel Leonard: Well, thank you! That’s very kind. I think I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a performer in some way although I would never have verbalized it or really ever knew if that was going to be a possibility. My opera track really started when I went to Juilliard for my undergrad. I had been singing all different genres up until then throughout my youth and high school. Musical theater, jazz, etc.
Imagista: With regards to Opera, I think that most people either love or…well…not so much…Personally I was forced to go to the Opera with my opera obsessed mother but now I love it. Did you always love opera or did you grow into it?
Isabel Leonard: No, I thought opera was ridiculous when I was a kid! Haha probably because my mother listened to it on the radio all the time, and well, we rebel against our parents, don’t we? But I’ve always loved loved loved music. And for me. Even now, my love for opera comes from the love of storytelling and the theater. Give me honest actors and good music any day.
Imagista: For those who don’t “get” or don’t love opera what advice would you offer the open-minded ones regarding how to approach it? I think some people simply find it intimidating.
Isabel Leonard: I think the best way to see an opera is when you know someone in it! I know that’s not always a possibility, but we watch sports because we also feel connected to the athletes right? So, I think it’s important to try and find a connection to the singers. So many of us are on Instagram and social media, and I think it’s a fun way to get more insight into the backstage life so to speak.
Imagista: You accomplished a lot already in your career including winning Multiple Grammy Awards. How did winning a Grammy feel, how did that affect you both personally and professionally?
Isabel Leonard: That moment was incredible. I didn’t even know at the time that The Tempest by Thomas Adés had been nominated. In fact, the Grammies had never been on my radar at all. So, that came as a huge surprise! But, as life goes, I couldn’t go to the Grammy Awards. My award came in the mail, and I was in the middle of rehearsals for something else! Haha always moving!
It’s a great feeling to win any accolade for your work. It’s a huge boost for your confidence especially in a business that’s quite difficult!!
Imagista: What career dreams do you have that you have not yet achieved?
Isabel Leonard: So, I would like a long, fulfilling life. My friend who is sitting with me as I write this says I should want the Kennedy Center Honor, and aim for an EGOT. So, yeah! That would be fun. 😉
Imagista: You’re a Mama right? How do you balance such a busy career and parenting?
Isabel Leonard: Sometimes, I have no idea, but If I could link my iCal to this interview, you’d see! I try to stay organized and I try to make sure I schedule in regular down time. That usually means, on the days of shows, I don’t schedule anything unless it’s really really important. I put all my work responsibilities during my sons school hours so that I can be with him when he’s out. Of course, that’s not always possible, but I work really hard at scheduling, all the time. I think it’s actually my third job after being a mom and opera singer.
Imagista: What are you working on in the coming weeks and months that you’re most excited about?
Isabel Leonard: I have a concert on Sunday with Andrea Bocelli! Very exciting. I’m really looking forward to that. We will be singing some wonderful duets on the Met Stage.
Monday I start a month long tour with the Czech National Symphony and John Mauceri conducting. We will be performing a lot of Leonard Bernstein’s music. 15 concerts in 25 days! Yikes!
Vogue: Opera Star Isabel Leonard on Singing for Sesame Street, Dancing to Pitbull, And Performing for Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court
It’s a busy season for Isabel Leonard: The Grammy-winning opera singer just finished a string of five performances of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera; her upcoming dates with Andrea Bocelli at the Met (February 10 and 17) are already sold out; and she appears tonight on PBS (9:00 p.m. EST) singing the title role in Marnie—the Nico Muhly opera based on Winston Groom’s 1961 novel and the 1964 Hitchcock film, both of the same name—as part of the acclaimed Great Performances at the Met series of HD-filmed operas. Muhly composed Marnie with Leonard in mind. The same adaptability and shape-shifting qualities that have contributed to her wide-ranging vita (who else has performed with Plácido Domingo and Murray Monster from Sesame Street?) made her perfect for the role of Marnie, a glamorous, inscrutable, and troubled woman moving from job to job and scam to scam in 1950s England. (Next up: The role of Blanche de la Force, a nun ready to follow her fervent religious beliefs all the way to the guillotine in revolutionary France, in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the Met in May.)
Vogue sat down with Leonard on a recent afternoon in a backstage lounge at the Met to talk about opera, her childhood in New York, dancing to Pitbull, singing for Ruth Bader Ginsburg backstage at the Supreme Court—and why she doesn’t go onstage without her Louboutins.
A picture may paint a thousand words, but nothing compares to the intimacy and immediacy of a handwritten letter. Hearing the “Letter Aria” from Jules Massenet’s Werther will prove it. From an opera based on the Goethe novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, this scene finds the tortured heroine Charlotte re-reading the letters of the doomed poet.
In this episode, host Rhiannon Giddens welcomes soprano Isabel Leonard, pianist Mary Dibbern and author Peter Bognanni to explore why the words we write to each other have so much power – sometimes even more than the ones we say aloud. They’ll reflect on Massenet’s talent for showing Charlotte’s deep connection to Werther and you’ll even get a real-life story about how email brought two people together. Then you’ll hear Isabel Leonard sing the complete scene onstage at the Metropolitan Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard can handle many different roles – this season she’s sung everything from Nico Muhly to Claude Debussy – but describes Charlotte as one of her most challenging. “The vocal writing is relentless,” she says. “Massenet had a way of expressing a very deep understanding of Charlotte’s complex struggle.”
Pianist Mary Dibbern began her love affair with French opera began in Paris more than 30 years ago. Since then, she’s translated a biography of Jules Massenet and is currently the Music Director of Education for the Dallas Opera.
Minneapolis-based Peter Bognanni fell in love with his wife over email. He is also the author of Things I’m Seeing Without You, a modern-day story about two teens who fall in love over text messages and email.