C Concert | New York, NY
L’Enfant et les sortilèges in San Francisco
Isabel Leonard starts the month of June at Carnegie Hall, where she’ll join Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the MET Orchestra in a fascinating program of French music that spans the 20th to 21st centuries. Debussy used shimmering colors to create an impression of the sea in his groundbreaking La mer, while Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2 enthralled audiences with its visceral excitement. No less stirring is his exotic Shéhérazade, a three-song collection inspired by Middle Eastern imagery. Dutilleux’s songs contemplate time and its passing with music that is intricately constructed and painted in vivid colors. This performance takes place on June 3.
She then travels to San Francisco to sing three performances of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges on June 27, 29, 30 with Michael Tilson Thomas on the podium. She shares the stage with Anna Christy, Nikki Einfeld, Marnie Breckenridge, Ginger Costa Jackson, Jennifer Johnson-Cano, Ben Jones, Kelly Markgraf and Michael Todd Simpson.
IN THE PRESS
It’s a wonder Isabel Leonard is able to talk at all. After all, the Grammy Award-winning singer is one of opera’s most in-demand voices, and this year alone she’s had leading roles in the Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Marnie and Pelléas et Mélisande and sang alongside Andrea Bocelli in his Three Centuries of Love. Next, she’ll appear in the Met’s Dialogues des Carmélites, opening May 3. But talk she did; here Leonard opens up to Town & Country about her career in opera, what you don’t know about singers, and why she never gets nervous.
It’s a big year for you with so many different productions. Where did the idea that you wanted to be an opera singer begin?
I still wonder how it all started. I don’t think you wake up as a kid and say, “I want to be an opera singer.” That wasn’t me. Music was always a part of my life, and I was in my early teens, I wanted to try singing—at the time that meant auditioning at LaGuardia High School. I ended up going there to study singing and discovering opera, and then was lucky enough to go on to Julliard. With opera, you never really know what will happen.
Opera requires a discipline that not every medium does. That’s not something everyone would sign up for in high school.
One of the big differences is going to a conservatory and you’re there with a group of students all of whom have a very specific purpose. To have that kind of focus early on gives you something in common with the people around you. We also all realized that we all did different things and we weren’t in direct competition, which made things better for everyone.