“Leonard rose slowly from the ground as the music itself floated upward, a nice touch for a character who appears from nowhere and has no discernible past, even to herself. Leonard and Ketelsen were excellent, their voices two of the most colorful elements of the evening. Her quasi-affectless manner and his grounded masculine intensity were strong expressions of the characters and an effective contrast.”
“The mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard brought a melting sound to Mélisande while suggesting the character’s fears and volatility. Yet, she intriguingly tapped into this fragile young woman’s willfulness. After all, it takes control to maintain secrets (and to downright lie) as Mélisande does. You understand why she almost passively, as we soon learn, marries Golaud. What other course is there? In a way, what does it matter?”
“Isabel Leonard is in beautifully resonant voice as Mélisande and sings with appropriate simplicity”
“Her best moment was the start of Act three where Mélisande sings to herself all alone, the orchestra silenced for numerous measures at a time. Leonard’s voice bloomed here as she took her time to shape each line, shifting between a brighter quality and a more introspective and melancholic one.”
“The other title role, Mélisande, was taken by Isabel Leonard, the American mezzo. Her voice was alive, always alive, and beautiful. It offered several colors. Leonard’s pitch was unerring, even when she was singing unaccompanied. Her French was excellent. In conversational singing, she gave a clinic. And she always exemplified taste.
Everything she did—every note, every inflection, every word, every gesture, every move—reflected intelligence.”