Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One Opera to Live

Last week you got to read about Brian Stucki and Lucas Meachem. This week I bring you all the darkest secrets (just kidding) of soprano Isabel Leonard (Rosina), who is currently causing an epidemic of jaw-dropping over at the Met. She’s been wowing them over there with her stage presence, amazing singing, and…let’s face it, she’s quite the looker. None of which has gone to her head - in interviewing Isabel, I found a soft-spoken yet strong young woman who is talented and sweet. Read on:

How would you describe Rosina?
She’s young and intelligent. She’s determined, but not completely self-confident (like any young person), despite the face she shows to the world. This is my role debut, so ask me again in a year or so!

What music is on your iPod right now?
My mother’s Argentinean, so my ear is very attuned to that style of music. I also have pretty much every song by Frank Sinatra. I love jazz - Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Etta James, Sarah Vaughn. I think they’re fabulous singers who connect to what they do on every level. They’re very honest.

Do you have any talents besides singing?
I’ve danced since I was five, but I don’t know if that’s unusual. I started with ballet and was in The Nutcracker twice and also studied tap and jazz. I still dance when I have the time. You communicate your story like in singing, but instead by moving your body to music. I love it.

What is the worst pick-up line you have ever heard?
I don’t think I’ve ever heard one that stuck in my brain. And I never heard that many pick-up lines to begin with. Nobody ever believes that, but it’s true. When my husband and I started dating, it was a very mutual thing. We were just drawn immediately to each other without much thought…or talking, even!

What books are on your “to be read” list?
A lot! I’ve been so busy preparing for Barber that the score is the only thing I’ve really read lately. I recently finished Practicing Peace in Times of War by an American Buddhist nun. I also have the complete novels of Jane Austen and Divas and Scholars by Philip Gossett, which talks about Barber. I’ve also started The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. The title pretty much says it all, and it’s very interesting.

What opera do you think would translate well to a series on HBO?
That’s a tough one, because so many of the main characters die at the end of the opera! If we could just omit the fact that she dies, I think Carmen would be excellent in her own show. You could show love affair after love affair and it would be very torrid and exciting.

What is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about you?
I’m actually quite shy. Because of my career, everyone thinks I’m very extroverted, but I’ve always been shy. I’ve learned to adapt, and not let my shyness stop me from communicating my thoughts and artistic ideas. I’m not shy on stage, but I’ve had to train myself to walk into a room and actually talk to people instead of hiding in the corner.

Catch Isabel as Rosina when The Barber of Seville opens February 6 at The Ellie. See you on Thursday!


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