M Marnie (Role Debut) | New York, NY
OCT 19, 22, 27, 31
NOV 3, 7, 10
Role debut as Marnie
On October 19, Isabel Leonard appears at the Metropolitan Opera to make her role debut as Marnie in Nico Muhly’s opera of the same name. This work, which premiered in London in 2017, tells the story of a young woman who makes a living by embezzling from her employers, moving on, and changing her identity until one day she is caught in the act.
Joining her are Christopher Maltman as Mark Rutland, Iestyn Davies as Terry Rutland, Janis Kelly as Mrs. Rutland and Denyce Graves as Marnie’s mother, with Robert Spano leading the orchestra.
New Bernstein digital album release
In honor of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony unveil their latest digital release: Bernstein’s personal and vacillating song cycle Arias and Barcarolles. In this recording, MTT enlivens a work he premiered with the composer, and shares with us a glimpse into the mind of one of music’s greatest cultural ambassadors. Available on all download and streaming channels, Bernstein: Arias and Barcarolles features the voices of mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny, and an orchestral arrangement that is, according to MTT, “everything that Bernstein would have wanted it to be.”
For more information, visit the San Francisco Symphony’s website.
IN THE PRESS
DC Metro Theater Arts | David Rohde Interviews Mezzo-Soprano Isabel Leonard
When Washington National Opera presents one of opera’s top examples of musical comedy next spring, it’s only fitting that the production will star a singer whose background sounds as ready-made for Broadway as for the opera house. Isabel Leonard, who will sing the lead role of Rosina in Gioachino Rossini’s laugh-filled romp The Barber of Seville, attended the Joffrey Ballet School, went to the high school made famous in the movie Fame, and once stepped into a key role in Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town when the show’s Broadway cast came to the San Francisco Symphony to do semi-staged performances minus one of their actresses.
At the Metropolitan Opera, Isabel is known for the high bar she’s set for stage business and physical comedy in what can otherwise be the rather earthbound business of opera. The twist is that as an operatic mezzo-soprano, she follows the centuries-old convention of opera mezzos playing both women and men according to the desires of the composers. She once even played both a young boy and a grown woman in the same evening in the case of two contrasting one-act operas by Maurice Ravel. But a passion for exploring in greater depth the music of Bernstein in the centennial year of his birth also has her developing a full recital program of the surprising variety of Bernstein’s music, which she will bring to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater prior to the opening of The Barber of Seville.
Recently I talked with Isabel by telephone in between her engagements around the country and internationally. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
David Rohde: Tell me how you got into ballet as a kid and what it brings to you now on the opera stage.
Isabel Leonard: I think just to have that physical discipline of dance from a very early age has always given me the ability to move. I know that might sound very simple or trite, but just the ability to move from point A to point B in such a way that we can feel your character’s frustration or whatever it might be, you’ve developed a vocabulary of expression that is coming from your body and not just from your voice. And not even meaning your singing voice, but your voice just as words.
How many years of training did you have at Joffrey?
I started when I was about five, and I was there, I think, until about 11 or 12. Right around the time when I had to make the decision as to whether I really wanted to do this or not.
Would you say that your ability to move on stage helps the other people on stage that you are singing an opera with?
I think so. I think that anything that you do on stage, if it is honest and true to the character that you are portraying, and if you are being open and generous to your colleagues, then nothing but good can come from that – for everyone. I think that there’s always a positive ricochet effect.