“But perhaps the unexpected (for this critic at least) star of the evening, was mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in her Dallas Opera debut. Her dark, lyric-mezzo voice was absolutely perfect as Rosina, and her agile coloratura was breathtaking, particularly in her Contro un cor che accende amore… aria with Count Almaviva. Leonard is most certainly a mezzo to keep your eye on in the future.”
David Weuste – OperaPulse
“ . . . what a cast! Isabel Leonard is a dazzling Rosina, pert and pretty as can be, with a bright, soprano-ish mezzo that can flicker, blaze or smolder with no perceptible effort.”
Scott Cantrell – dallasnews.com
“Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, a rapidly rising star in the operatic world, brought a wonderfully rich tone and perfect bel canto flexibility to the character of Rosina, playing up the willful post-adolescent aspect.”
Wayne Lee Gay – Front/Row for D Magazine
“Isabel Leonard creates a crackerjack Rosina. Originally written for a contralto, every conceivable female voice has sung the role (with or without transpositions). Here Leonard’s mezzo voice has just enough soprano overtones to give her characterization a light touch, but enough mezzo to achieve Rossini’s concept. Her excellently sung coloratura runs are dramatically organic, growing out of the motivation of the text, rather than flights of notes. Some even incorporate laughter. This same kind of detail is noticeable throughout. She obviously decides how every note should be performed and puts it all together for a marvelous performance.
So often, this role is played with a petulant edge that makes you wonder why the Count would put up with her. Not here. Her characterization looks forward and you can see glints of the Countess that Rosina will become in Mozart’s sequel. While keeping the charm of youth, Leonard is always a lady, albeit a young and girlish one. In all her planning and conniving, she is more mischievous than merely mean.”
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs – TheaterJones
“Isabel Leonard is pretty much ideal for the role of Rosina, possessing the requisite voice, looks and oomph.”
Michael Johnson – ConcertoNet.com
“Soprano Isabel Leonard is one of the most animated characters on stage as the beautiful, charming Rosina. She’s a captivating starlet, flitting effortlessly between childlike petulance and endearing, hapless lover. Her voice is flexible and buoyant and perfectly suited for Rossini’s bel canto style, with acrobatic, sparkling lines of high notes and a warm, satiny sound in lower ranges.
Leonard’s chemistry both with the object of her affection (Count Almaviva) and her nasty, bumbling guardian (Dr. Bartolo) is mesmerizing. Buffo bass Donato DiStefano is a hilariously nasty Dr. Bartolo with a face capable of endless contortions and a consistently strong, satisfying voice. The interactions between DiStefano and Leonard are perfectly played, drawing one loud burst of laughter from the audience after another.”
Katie Womack – Dallas Observer