“The cast is superb. I might quibble for a moment about the sheer beauty of everything about mezzo Isabel Leonard’s performances as Sister Blanche. With that velvet voice and those film-star looks, she seems too poised, even a bit smug, for an aristocrat too morbidly sensitive to venture out of a convent. But there is no denying she is a perfectly opulent singer.”
“Leading this revival cast is mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who has built herself a reputation as one of the finest singing actresses in opera today. Blanche de la Force, the newest sister of the order, is one of her darker roles, dramatically speaking, and her internal struggle of conscience was a stunning achievement.
Leonard’s Blanche seemed to be constantly on the edge of breaking, torn between fear and her faith, taking up a new way of life and quickly finding that it could cost her more than she imagined. Leonard has a gift for merging her vocal and dramatic characters into an integral whole: her warm, focused mezzo is adaptable to a wide variety of roles, and here its quickness seemed to reflect the conflicted feelings racing through Blanche’s mind.”
“The opera begins in the library of the Marquis de la Force (the sturdy baritone Jean-François Lapointe, in his Met debut), who is deeply worried about his fearful daughter, Blanche, here the resplendent mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who achingly conveys the fraught and shifting emotions of this complex character.”
“Statuesque Isabel Leonard is not the most obvious choice for the central role of sheltered, frightened Blanche, who seeks refuge in Carmelite life. Incapable of being mousy, Leonard was convincingly distracted and withdrawn, and rightly saved her richest singing for last.”