P Pelléas et Mélisande (Role Debut) | New York, NY
JAN 15, 19, 22, 25, 31
Role debut in Pélleas et Melisande
Debussy’s only opera, Pélleas et Melisande, a mesmerizing meditation on love and betrayal, returns to the Metropolitan Opera stage for the first time in almost a decade, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the landmark score. Isabel Leonard makes her role debut alongside tenor Paul Appleby as the naïve title lovers, and baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the imperious Prince Golaud. Ferruccio Furlanetto as Arkel and Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Geneviève complete the cast.
The performances are on January 15, 19, 22, 25, 31.
Upcoming recording of “Bernstein at 100”
The Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood spotlighted Leonard Bernstein’s wide-ranging talents as a composer, his many gifts as a great interpreter and champion of other composers, and his role as inspiration for a new generation of musicians and music lovers across the country and around the globe. This gala concert featured a kaleidoscopic array of artists and ensembles from the worlds of classical music, film, and Broadway, like Isabel Leonard, Thomas Hampson, Audra McDonald, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadine Sierra and Susan Graham among others.
This luxury recording features a program devoted to selections from such brilliant Bernstein works as Candide, West Side Story, Mass, and his Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for violin and orchestra, a new work by John Williams, which focuses on classical repertoire particularly dear to Bernstein’s heart, including excerpts from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and, for a dramatic close, the finale of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.
This blu-ray is available for pre-order from the Boston Symphony Orchestra Store and will be shipped early December.
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.