Isabel Leonard

Introduction

Grammy Award winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is acclaimed for her 'passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty' and has thrilled audiences both at home in the United States and internationally.  She is the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Richard Tucker Award.

Highlights in her 2016/17 season include Charlotte Werther for the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the Metropolitan Opera and role debuts as Adalgisa Norma for the Canadian Opera Company and as Donna Elvira in a new production of Don Giovanni at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence.

The future sees her return to the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera and the Munich State Opera and make major debuts at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Her concert appearances have included the New York Philharmonic with Maazel, the Boston Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras with Dudamel, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Nelsons at the Tanglewood Festival, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with both Salonen and Gergiev, the Cleveland Orchestra with Welser-Möst and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with Conlon.  A popular recitalist, she has appeared in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, in Atlanta’s Spivey Hall and in New York at both the Zankel and Alice Tully Halls.

Isabel Leonard is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall.

This is for information only. Please contact Camilla Wehmeyer for an up-to-date biography.

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News & Features

Repertoire

ADES
The Tempest (Miranda)

BERLIOZ
Les nuits d’été
Roméo et Juliette

HANDEL
Alcina (Ruggiero)
Giulio Cesare (Sesto)

MOZART
La clemenza di Tito (Sesto)
Così fan tutte (Dorabella)
Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira)
Exsultate Jubilate
Idomeneo (Idamante)
Mass in C Minor
Le nozze di Figaro (Cherubino)

OFFENBACH
La Périchole (title role)

POULENC
Dialogues des Carmélites (Blanche)

RAVEL
L’heure espagnole (Concepcion)
L’enfant et les sortilèges (L'enfant)

ROSSINI
Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina)
La Cenerentola (Angelina)
Stabat Mater

STRAUSS
Der Rosenkavalier (Octavian)

VIVALDI
Griselda (Costanza)

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  • Living the Classical Life

Press

Massenet

Werther

Teatro Comunale, Bologna

The American Isabel Leonard is perfect in the role of Charlotte, both scenically and vocally. With her slightly dark tone, she delineates an intense character and, like Flórez, she exhibits excellent French pronunciation. Renato Verga, Bachtrack, 17 December 2016
Accanto a Flórez, Isabel Leonard è splendida Charlotte. Anzi, per certi versi lo supera in scavo della parola, in tornitura del melodismo tortuoso di Massenet, nel far esplodere in  chiari proiettatissimi acuti il tormento del personaggio, sfoggiando nel contempo un medium pieno e sicuro e un registro grave non enorme ma che evita al personaggio cavernosità fuori luogo. È insomma una Lotte fragile e umanissima quella che si presenta davanti a noi al terzo atto, momento supremo della serata. null Lorenzo Baldini, GBOpera, 15 December 2016
Charlotte, ritratta con grazia, pur con una gestualità sempre più nervosa, da Isabel Leonard, interprete dal mezzo vocale ricco e generoso. Valentina Anzani, Il Giornale della Musica, 15 December 2016

Bernstein

On The Town

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas

Three singers were corralled from opera, and they too amazed. Isabel Leonard (Clair, the racy anthropologist) demonstrated she can dance, act, wise-crack and sing Broadway with the best of them. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2016

New to the project was mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard whose impeccably timed and gorgeously voiced anthropologist Claire de Loon suggested she might try Broadway.

Allan Ulrich, Financial Times, 30 May 2016
Even better, at Wednesday’s opening-night performance, was the sighingly tender 'Some Other Time,' with Isabel Leonard’s quiet contemplation of life’s fleeting pleasures leading the way into this glowing ensemble. Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice, 27 May 2016
Operatic mezzo Isabel Leonard (Claire) stands out for her vibrato and range. She has nice, beefy bottom notes and ringing top notes in 'Carried Away'. Ilana Walder-Biesanz, Bachtrack, 27 May 2016

Rossini

La Cenerentola

Lyric Opera of Chicago

With impressive vocal flexibility and depth, the mezzo-soprano ably captured the dark-hued, melancholic flavor of the opening aria and brilliantly lit up the coloratura that came later. Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun Times, 05 October 2015
As Angelina, the radiant Isabel Leonard brought a believable human quality to the abused, put-upon girl amid the surrounding farce. She was affecting in her honest love for the prince Don Ramiro–who masquerades as his own valet—and Cinderella’s genuine willingness to forgive her insufferable stepsisters and mendacious father...[she] sang touchingly in Cinderella’s melancholy moments while throwing off Rossini’s high-flying roulades and coloratura runs with pinpoint accuracy and agility. Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, 05 October 2015
Yet as boldly colorful as the sets and costumes are, they pale next to Isabel Leonard who, in the title role, radiates beauty, warmth and talent. Yes, the Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano can act as well as sing. The Examiner, 09 October 2015
The American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, so appealing as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia two seasons ago, was just as appealing as Angelina.  The singer had the vocal and physical beauty, the stage charisma, the sure dramatic instincts, to win all audience hearts.  She also commanded the tonal lustre, coloratura agility and precision to articulate Rossini's technically demanding bel canto runs and roulades. John von Rhein, Opera, January 2016

Jennifer Higdon

Cold Mountain

Santa Fe

Isabel Leonard made a handsome Inman and Ada [with a] rich voice infused with luster that lends clarity. Leonard got the opera’s finest aria, perhaps the only expanse to really merit that term, a deeply affecting number in the second act (“I feel sorry for you”) where she is left alone with the unconscious Stobrod and sings about how she wishes he could appreciate Ruby as she does, covering two octaves and sculpting her lines with passionate sweep.  James M. Keller, New Mexican, 02 August 2015
Isabel Leonard sings ardently as she portrays Ada’s transformation from clueless city girl to a woman who knows her way around a rifle. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 11 August 2015
Isabel Leonard (Ada) [was] vocally resplendent, seeming free to find the dramatic truth of any given scene.  Philadelphia Inquirier, David Patrick Stearns, 09 August 2015
Isabel Leonard was a beautiful, believable Ada, the richness of her mezzo evoking Ada’s reserve and desire. Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal, 10 August 2015
The mezzo Isabel Leonard vividly projected the heartbreaking war-weariness of a shattered Confederacy. T.R. Reid, Washington Post, 16 August 2015

Rossini

La Cenerentola

Washington National Opera

Grammy-award winning star Isabel Leonard makes her WNO debut in the role. She deserves all of her accolades. She is a nuanced actor who can walk the line between a sweetness that is almost too good to be true and amusement at all of the ridiculousness. Plus her voice is heaven. Rossini delights in the bel canto tradition of vocal acrobatics with runs of impossibly fast arpeggios and scales and soaring notes for every character. Leonard excels at this in her arias 'Non piu mesta' and the penultimate 'Una volta c’era un re 2.' DC Metro Theater Arts, Jessica Vaughan, 01 May 2015
Leonard's voice was made for Gioachino Rossini's bel canto lines and the darker tones written for a mezzo soprano. Isabella is down to earth, kind, and forgiving - all qualities perfectly suited to a mezzo, especially with beauty, grace and a voice such as Leonard possesses. The young singer is making a name for herself and WNO is lucky to get her on her way up in the opera world. Broadway World, Jeffrey Walker, 11 May 2015
What rising star mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard manages to make of the part of Angelina is to give the part and the music a great deal of warmth and grace, if not drama, which is just so, given the nature of the character. Gary Tischler, The George Towner, 11 May 2015
Isabel Leonard is the calm center of this production, and both physically and vocally she achieved this with grace...her mezzo sound is lovely and most effective in communicating the unworldly purity of the girl. Her singing was especially effective in the second act. Susan Galbraith, CD Theatre Scene, 12 May 2015

Rossini

Il barbiere di Siviglia

Metropolitan Opera, New York

Few operas can provide an evening of such pure delight as Il barbiere di Siviglia, and few productions of Rossini's comic gem are as much fun as the one now on the boards at the Metropolitan Opera, with a smashing Isabel Leonard as Rosina and a solid Christopher Maltman as Figaro, the titular barber of quality.  Leonard is simply a joy to watch and hear. From her huge success as Cherubino in the new production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, which opened the Met season, the hometown New York mezzo is a natural as Rosina. For one thing, she is a splendid actress, always engaged in a scene whether she is singing or listening to someone else sing, and full of small gestures or business that brings her character to life. Fetching and winsome, Leonard's Rosina also can be mischievous and headstrong, a woman who will get her way no matter what and whom one would not want to cross. She has a lovely and lilting coloratura voice that is as clear as crystal in the upper register, as she demonstrates in her opening cavatina 'Un voce poco fa.' And her distinctive phrasing compliments the character she creates.  The part of Rosina was originally written for a mezzo, though some of the great sopranos, notably Callas, commandeered the role. Leonard's performance is pitch-perfect, both musically and theatrically, and justly reclaims it for the mezzo voice. Maltman has a commanding baritone that fits the role of Figaro admirably. He has excellent breath control in the demanding opening act aria and has a confident and strong voice that conveys the cleverness of his character.
Wilborn Hampton, Huffinton Post, 12 November 2014

Isabel Leonard was an excellent Rosina, her lithe mezzo having both the agility and the solidity the role requires. Her characterization matched perfectly the heroine’s self-description in her beautifully ornamented ‘Una voce poco fa’ as a refined, clever young woman who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. She gave a convincing account of Rosina’s vindictiveness when she believes that Lindoro is deceiving her.

David M Rice, Classical Source, 18th November 2014
Isabel Leonard is a pitch-perfect Rosina, cute but sharp clawed, dispatching Rossini’s dizzying runs and ornaments with stenciled precision. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times. 20 November 2014

Mozart

Le nozze di Figaro

Metropolitan Opera, New York

The plush, animated mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is a beguiling Cherubino, the count’s page...that this Cherubino is 100 percent hormones was palpable in Ms. Leonard’s singing of the breathless aria 'Non so più,' in which the young man tells of being so swept up with longing for every woman he sees that he goes through each day trembling with elation and utter confusion. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 23 September 2014
Isabel Leonard’s libidinous Cherubino made the adolescent a worthy rival of the Count. George Loomis, Financial Times, 23 September 2014
Isabel Leonard is a marvelous Cherubino, squirming and lusting and leering and ducking as if she had been reborn as a teenage boy, but with the voice of a confident woman. Justin Davinson, New York Magazine, 24 September 2014
Isabel Leonard is perfectly ardent and amusing as the love-struck young man Cherubino, who ends up dressing like a girl — and takes to it like a duck in heels. Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News, 23 September 2014
Isabel Leonard made a winsome, pure-voiced Cherubino, complete with an amusing sashay in heels. Ronni Reich, New Jersey Star Ledger, 23 September 2014
My new favorite Cherubino, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, was all unrestrained boyishness that gave way to the stumbling awe of adolescent feelings in 'Voi che sapete.' It was a stunning moment, and you could tell that Levine was having a great time, too. He brought down the da capo volume to such a whisper that this Cherubino was able to savor, as if entranced in a prayer, the possibility that what he felt in his heart might be love.  Nancy Malitz, Classical Voice North America, 25 September 2014
A key asset was Isabel Leonard's Cherubino: Vocally charming (aren't most of them?), she was the most convincingly boyish singer I've seen in that role, different from Frederica von Stade's more physically contained portrayal, instead striking out in all directions on the stage with intense emotional undercurrents. One example: When sent off to war with mocking military salutes from Figaro and Susanna, Leonard threw herself into Susanna's arms in a touching show of adolescent anguish. All of Leonard's stage time had the solid ring of truth, accentuating the sense of realism among those around her. David Patrick Stearns, WQXR, 23 September 2014
American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Cherubino, the count’s page, was convincing as the hormone-driven teenage boy in love with every woman he sees. She dispatched his two arias with gorgeous tone and natural feeling, swinging between the extremes of a now passionate, now reflective youth. Examiner, 24 September 2014
Leonard, a young mezzo destined for a stellar career, has to be the most engaging page since Frederica von Stade. Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg, 26 September 2014
And the hometown mezzo Isabel Leonard is a joy in the trouser role of Cherubino, the pageboy who falls in love with every woman he sees. The scene in which Susanna and the Countess dress him as a woman -- in fact, a woman playing a man playing a woman -- is a highlight of the evening. Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post, 26 September 2014
Isabel Leonard looked delightful as Cherubino and sang beautifully... John Rockwell, Opera, December 2014
Isabel Leonard's Cherubino is a proven commodity in New York; looking especially toothsome and singing with an extra measure of grace, she stole every scene she was in. F. Paul Driscoll, Opera News, December 2014

Strauss

Der Rosenkavalier

Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons at the Tanglewood Festival

[The] roles were taken, in the concluding trio, by established professionals: the sopranos Angela Denoke (the Marschallin) and Sophie Bevan (Sophie) and the mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Octavian). Ms. Denoke sang with fine sensibility...in keeping with the plight of her character. Ms. Leonard was strong and alluring, Ms. Bevan pure and sweet. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, 13 July 2014
Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard brought her smooth, amber-toned voice to the role of Octavian. In the love duet between the prince and Sophie, her phrases took on a soft, feathery quality without losing their body. Soprano Sophie Bevan, as Octavian’s love interest, sang beautiful arching lines to mesh with Leonard’s phrases. Angela Denoke brought a touch of heartbreak to the role of the Marschallin, singing with a smooth, milky soprano. Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review, 13 July 2014

Mozart

Così fan tutte

Metropolitan Opera, New York

The mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is a plush-voiced and feisty Dorabella. In their many passages performed in sisterly duet, Ms. Phillips and Ms. Leonard sang with impressively true pitch and a beautifully blended sound. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 25 September 2013
...mezzo Isabel Leonard captures the sassy nature of Dorabella and sings a lovely "smanie implacabili"... Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post, 25 September 2013

Rossini

Il barbiere di Siviglia

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Leonard’s darkly lustrous mezzo-soprano is ideal for the plum role of Rosina. The American singer commands the wide range, the coloratura agility and the striking physical beauty, charm and stage presence to make an audience take the heroine to its heart. Some singers overdo the character’s calculation, but Leonard balanced sweet and saucy nicely. You really believed this Rosina when she explained, in her touchstone aria, 'Una voce poco fa,' that while she appears to be gentle and obedient, she will turn into a viper if necessary to get her way. John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune

Mozart

Le nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Festival Opera

In a nicely balanced cast, my favourite is Isabel Leonard’s Cherubino – a stage animal with charisma written all over her. Andrew Clark, Financial Times, June 2012
Standout performances come from Isabel Leonard’s Cherubino, sung with individual tone and musical freshness. George Hall, Evening Standard
Isabel Leonard’s spirited Cherubino (a kind of cross-gender Sporty Spice) hits the spot. Edward Seckerson, The Independent
Cherubino’s randiness (gloriously conveyed by Isabel Leonard). Paul Levy, The Wall Street Journal
Isabel Leonard makes a sparkling debut as troubled adolescent Cherubino, unsure who he is in love with and a thorn in the Count’s side. Clare Colvin, Sunday Express
The keynote is young love, that volatile pitch from euphoria to despair expressed in the surging hormones of the teenage Cherubino (an outstanding debut from Isabel Leonard). Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, July 2012
Isabel Leonard’s spunky Cherubino – this as fine a portrayal as I can recall since Teresa Berganza at Covent Garden 49 years ago. Leonard is making her Glyndebourne debut ….and this house has shown once more – as so often in the past – how deft it tends to be at finding the brightest and best of the stars of the future. Antony Craig, Gramophone

Mozart

Così fan tutte

Metropolitan Opera, New York

The singers by and large did well, with Isabel Leonard as Dorabella, being the vocal standout. As a girl in love with love (much like the young page, Cherubino, a role she sang at the Met last season), she sang with melting mellow tone. Arlene Klotzko, Concertonet, December 2010
Blending vocal warmth and clarity, Ms. Leonard was a winning Dorabella. Anthony Tommasini. The New York Times, November 2010
Isabel Leonard contributes a charismatic Dorabella that is eloquently sung in pure mezzo tones... George Loomis. The Classical Review, November 2010

Mozart

Così fan tutte

Salzburg Festival

One would have to love Isabel Leonard, for the nuanced and soaring quality of her Mezzo voice. Jürgen Otten, Frankfurter Rundschau , August 2009
...thoroughly appealing: Isabel Leonard... Ljubisa Tosic, Der Standard, August 2009
Isabel Leonard demonstrates how the entire drama of an aria, phrase, and sometimes only in a shadowed sung word can flow together…. a grand Mozart stylist, who continues in the lines of Christa Ludwig, Brigitte Fassbänder, and Agnes Baltsa. Merkur Online, August 2009

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Recordings

RAVEL: L'enfant et les sortilèges

Isabel Leonard - L'Enfant
Yvonne Naef - Mother/Chinese Cup/Dragonfly
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt- Teapot/Arithmetic/Frog
Elliot Madore - Grandfather Clock/Tomcat
Paul Gay - Armchair/Tree
Anna Christy - Princess/Fire/Nightingale
Marie Lenormand - Cat
Kanae Fujitani - Louis XV Chair/ Bat

Saito Kinen Orchestra / Seiji Ozawa

Recorded at the Saito Kinen and released in celebration of Seiji Ozawa's 80th Birthday

Best Opera Recording (2015 Grammy Awards) 

Decca

Preludios

Isabel Leonard - mezzo-soprano
Brian Zeger -piano

A programme exploring the riches of Spanish song, encompassing pure folksongs, folk-influenced art songs, dances and popular theater songs by some of Spain’s finest composers of the late-19th and 20th-centuries: Mompou, Falla, García Lorca, Sanjuán, Granados and Montsalvatge.
DELOS

Handel: Giulio Cesare

Lawrence Zazzo - Giulio Cesare
Nathalie Dessay - Cleopatra
Isabel Leonard - Sesto
Varduhi Abrahamyan - Cornelia
Christophe Dumaux - Tolomeo
Nathan Berg - Achilla

Le Concert d'Astrée / Emmanuelle Haïm

Laurent Pelly's production recorded live at the Opéra national de Paris in 2011

Virgin Classics

Rob Kapilow: Dr. Seuss's Gertrude McFuzz

Isabel Leonard - mezzo-soprano

Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra

Isabel Leonard lends her voice to the popular Dr. Seuss character Gertrude McFuzz on a new recording featuring the story set to music by composer Rob Kapilow, accompanied by the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra and members of the Broadway Youth Ensemble. 
GPR Records

Adès: The Tempest

Simon Keenlyside - Prospero
Isabel Leonard - Miranda
Alan Oke - Caliban
William Burden - King of Naples
Toby Spence - Antonio
Iestyn Davies - Trinculo

Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera / Thomas Adès

Robert Lepage's production recorded live at the Metropolitan Opera in 2012

Best Opera Recording (2014 Grammy Awards) 
Music DVD Recording of the Year (2014 Echo Klassik Awards)
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART: Le nozze di Figaro

Countess Almaviva - Sally Matthews
Figaro - Vito Priante
Count Almaviva - Audun Iversen
Susanna - Lydia Teuscher
Cherubino - Isabel Leonard
Bartolo - Andrew Shore
Marcellina - Ann Murray
Don Basilio - Alan Oke

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Robin Ticciati

Michael Grandage's production recorded live at the 2012 Glyndebourne Festival
Opus Arte

MOZART: COSÌ FAN TUTTE

Fiordiligi – Miah Persson
Dorabella – Isabel Leonard
Guglielmo – Florian Boesch
Ferrando – Topi Lehtipuu
Despina – Patricia Petibon
Don Alfonso – Bo Skovhus

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Adam Fischer

Claus Guth's production recorded live at the 2009 Salzburg Festival
Unitel Classics