Leonard, who has shown her prowess with this material as recently as last month’s performances of the song cycle “Arias and Barcarolles” with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, delivered all of it with a loving, tender air. Her singing is dark and velvety, with a full-bodied physicality that can taper at will into crystalline purity, and she doesn’t so much direct the music’s phrases as caress them into shape — a perfect match for the soft-edged sentiment of so much of Bernstein’s vocal music.
The easy-going affair showed Leonard has the richly beautiful tone and instinctive mixture of innocence and wit to believably inhabit almost any Bernstein song. She also has exceptionally attractive stage presence that suits everything from Wendy’s sweet expression of her crush on Peter Pan (“Peter, Peter”) to Walt Whitman’s moving words in “To What You Said” from “Songfest.” Her fresh good looks added a delightful sense of self-awareness to a vivacious “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story.”
The Bay Area Reporter