“Met with cheers and bravas, the mezzo easily won over the audience at her Washington National Opera debut Saturday night. With her rich, warm and expressive voice – not to mention commanding stage presence – Leonard charmed the prince, dazzled with her effortless singing, and was the icing on the cake for an enchanting evening at the opera.
Leonard’s voice was made for Gioachino Rossini’s bel canto lines and the darker tones written for a mezzo soprano. From the fairy tales and Disney, we know her as Cinderella, but she is Isabella in Rossini’s opera, with libretto by Jacopo Ferretti based on the French version of the story by Charles Perrault (“Cendrillon”). Isabella is down to earth, kind, and forgiving – all qualities perfectly suited to a mezzo, especially with beauty, grace and a voice such as Leonard possesses. The young singer is making a name for herself and WNO is lucky to get her on her way up in the opera world.”
Jeffrey Walker – Broadway World
Finally, we get to our heroine, Angelina, sung in this production by mezzo Isabel Leonard (who will alternate in some productions with Irish-born mezzo Tara Erraught.) Ms. Isabel’s command of Rossini-style vocal ornamentation was fluid and virtually flawless, some of the best singing I’ve heard in this role, joining her primarily cast colleagues in their command of this difficult kind of stylization.
Terry Ponick – Communities Digital News
“What rising star mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard manages to make of the part of Angelina (as in Cinderella) is to give the part and the music a great deal of warmth and grace . . . she shines . . .”
Gary Tischler – The Georgetowner
“Isabel Leonard is the calm center of this production, and both physically and vocally she achieved this with grace. Angelina, is meant to be a symbol of virtue, modesty, and charity . . . her mezzo sound is lovely and most effective in communicating the unworldly purity of the girl. Her singing was especially effective in the second act.”
Susan Galbraith – DC Theatre Scene
“The very picture of a far more self-assured and willful Angelina, Isabel Leonard looks like a 1960s Italian film star in mufti. With her rich and dusky mezzo-soprano, Leonard gives her young woman a gravitas and intensity that keeps her from ever being too much the sugary heroine. When Ramiro at last tells her “come rule with me,” it is easy to see the queen she will be.”
Kate Wingfield – Metro Weekly