“Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and baritone Jared Bybee headlined the first concert of this season’s George London Foundation Recital Series at the Morgan Library’s Gilder Lehrman Hall. The October 9 program found Leonard in exceptionally fine voice. She evinced supreme control over her chocolatey mezzo-soprano and instinctively tailored her approach to the long, narrow hall, so that her warm, embracing tone never overwhelmed the space. She was relaxed and effortless in four Spanish songs, including Joaquín Valverde Sanjuán’s chatty “Clavelitos” and de Falla’s elegantly prayerful “Oracion de la madres que tienen sus hijos en brazos” … Adalgisa’s aria “Deh! Proteggemi, o Dio!” from Norma showed Leonard at her most focused and compelling. This was an Adalgisa with something on her mind, and as Leonard spun out glorious, liquid sound, every repeated “proteggemi” seemed to beg a different kind of protection. Leonard’s most enchanting singing of the night, however, was her encore, an exquisite and absolutely riveting rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me” that was perfectly judged in every way.
Joanne Sydney Lessner, Opera News