“So it came as little surprise that on Thursday evening, when Richard Eyre’s 2014 production of “Figaro” returned to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera with the wonderful Isabel Leonard again in that role, Cherubino ruled. Ms. Leonard’s lustrous, full-bodied mezzo-soprano and her exquisite comic timing seized attention at every turn.”
James R. Oestreich – The New York Times
“Argentine-American singer Isabel Leonard has dominated the role of Cherubino in recent seasons and in this latest run, she has proven that she still has a lot to show in the role. The arc of the character in this year’s showcase has been far more nuanced with the shy child’s growing confidence coming with shades of cockiness from the forefront. During her “Non son piu cosa son, cosa faccio,” the choice of a propulsive tempo added to the sense of agitation in the character. As the aria unfolded near the end, it constantly slowed, emphasizing Cherubino’s calm yet rather saddened character. Leonard’s voice diminished in strength hinting at a Cherubino slowly despairing. But in one quick switch, she looked up at the audience, her face suggesting something rather provocative in the text “parlo d’amor con me (I speak of love to myself).” The innocence of the child was completely washed away in that moment and the final iteration of the ending text had a triumphant ring that wound was witty and charming in the context.
During the other famed number, “Voi che sapete,” the character’s development was given its full rounding in the course of a few minutes. In this section, Cherubino sings to the Countess of love. Leonard played off the fact that Cherubino is singing by having him perform in a rigid posture that expressed uncertainty. The voice was direct and potent, but not as nuanced as the delicate phrasing that came during the repetition of the theme. Here the phrases danced about with a mix of excitement and seduction and Leonard’s entire physicality shifted to express these same ideas. The rigid and awkward hand gestures were gone as Cherubino inched ever closer to the Countess like a man ready to win her over. The sound went from quiet and subtle to passionate and voluminous.
In other moments, Leonard enjoyed toying with the fact that she was a woman playing a man that was dressed up as a woman, her walk draw effusive laughter from the audience. In one subtle by equally endearing moment, her Cherubino started to christen himself before jumping out a window, but then realized it was a literal and figurative waste of time.”
David Salazar – Latin Post
“Leonard was irresistibly charming in her scampish portrayal of the lovestruck young Cherubino, stealing every scene she walked into with her masterfully timed comic antics.”
Eric C. Simpson – New York Classical Review