20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Mezzo-Soprano Isabel Leonard

Classic Arts Features   20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Mezzo-Soprano Isabel Leonard
 
The fast-rising mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard adds another remarkable accomplishment to a growing list of stellar achievements with the announcement this week that she has won the 2013 Richard Tucker Award, often referred to as the "Heisman Trophy of Opera."

A native of New York City and a graduate of the Juilliard School, Leonard's career goes from strength to strength as critics and audiences respond enthusiastically to the intensity of her performances and the beauty of her voice. Praising her performance as Cherubino, a signature role, in a Glyndebourne production of Le nozze di Figaro, the Financial Times called her "a stage animal with charisma written all over her."

Isabel Leonard will soon give the second of two role debuts this season at the Metropolitan Opera, when she performs the role of Blanche in Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmelites (opening May 4). Among her recent highlights are role debuts as Miranda in Thomas Ads's The Tempest at the Met, and as Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at the Canadian Opera Company. She has appeared in concert with America's leading orchestras _ including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic _ and recently made her Zankel Hall recital debut. In 2011 she won the Met's prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award. In New York this Sunday, April 21, she will be a presenter at the eighth annual Opera News Awards gala at The Plaza, giving the award to friend and colleague, baritone Simon Keenlyside.

As readers of her responses to our "20 Questions" will quickly find out, Isabel Leonard is _ along with being extremely talented _ extremely charming. Her ingenious response to her self-written bonus question is especially sure to delight.

1. A few works of classical music that you adore:

There is so much to choose from!

Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony
The C Major section in the Act 2 Finale of The Marriage of Figaro
Asturias (Leyenda), guitar version by Isaac Albéniz.

2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:

Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev

3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:

Ella Fitzgerald
Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim
The Beatles

4. Music that makes you cry – any genre:

Elevator music makes me cry because it is awful! Ha ha! The end of La bohème makes me cry every time because it is a perfect musical description of grief.

5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):

Felix Mendelssohn
Elvis

6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):

[no response]

7. Live music performance (s) you attended – any genre – that you’ll never forget:

While at the Den Haag Jazz Festival, I was able to see B. B. King live, and in the same day Béla Fleck and The Flecktones.

8. A few relatively recent films you love:

I rarely have time to see movies, but I did go see Lincoln.

9. A few films you consider classics:

There are again, so many!! How to choose!

Godfather I & II
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Right Stuff

10. A book (or two or three) that is important to you (and why):

Goodnight Moon – I read it as a child, and now I read it to my son.

Snap by Patti Wood. I am a student of people, and I like watching how people move and what they are saying especially if I cannot hear them.

Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chodron. I revisit this from time to time when things are very difficult.

11. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re most proud of:

I am loyal, and diligent

12. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re embarrassed by:

I am embarrassed to even answer the question

13. Three things you can’t live without:

My son
Dark Chocolate
Our passports

14. “When I want to get away from it all I…”

… arrange for a few hours if I can spare them at a nice spa and leave everything at home.”

15. “People are surprised to find out that I…”

…am a goof-ball, and am up for trying new things”

16. “My favorite cities are…”

…Manhattan, obviously! Chicago, Paris and London.”

17. “I have a secret crush on…”

…Liam Neeson”

18. “My most obvious guilty pleasure is…”

…ice cream”

19. “I’d really love to meet – or to have met…”

…Madonna and Fred Astaire”

20. “I never understood why…”

…people can not live and let live.”

BONUS QUESTION:

21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Monday: Doctor
Tuesday: Dancer
Wednesday: Actor
Thursday: Singer
Friday: Professional Athlete
Saturday: Stay at home mom
Sunday: Day off!


Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:

Sir Andrew Davis

Countertenor Iestyn Davies

Opera Legend Marilyn Horne

Tenor Stephen Costello

Pianist Alexandre Tharaud

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann

Soprano Christine Brewer

Soprano Kate Royal

Baritone Paulo Szot

Baritone Nathan Gunn

Bass-Baritone John Relyea

Pianist Yuja Wang

Pianist Kirill Gerstein

Organist Cameron Carpenter

Choreographer Peter Martins

Soprano Diana Damrau

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein

Pianist David Fray

Violinist Sarah Chang

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman

Soprano Sandrine Piau

Soprano Natalie Dessay

Harpsichordist and Conductor Christophe Rousset

Guitarist Xuefei Yang

Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

Soprano Nicole Cabell

Pianist Jonathan Biss

Tenor Ian Bostridge

Soprano Danielle de Niese

New-Music Sextet eighth blackbird

Composer and Violinist Mark O'Connor

Composer Jake Heggie

Composer Ricky Ian Gordon

Compiled and edited by Albert Imperato. For permission to post or print this interview write to aimperato@21cmediagroup.com.

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