ISABEL LEONARD

untitledIsabel Leonard has risen to prominence among a new generation of singers who travel comfortably from the Opera stages of America and Europe to the concert platforms of major orchestras. She is also a sensitive recitalist, as demonstrated by the concentrated attention and care she gives, hand in hand with her top-notch collaborative pianist Brian Zeger, to the collection of Spanish songs by Mompou, Falla, Montsalvatge, Lorca, Granados, and Sanjuan, which DELOS released three years ago under the title PRELUDIOS (DE3468).

Ms. Leonard’s voice is that of a lyric mezzo, with a lovely timbre, plenty of flexibility, and the capability of changing colors at will to serve both text and music. And she has the comfort and confidence at both ends of her range to achieve spectacular results, as witness her frequent descents into an earthy chest sound reminiscent of that of Spanish cantejondo singers, and her ringing high note at the end of Granados’ Gracia mia.

But the dusky color of her voice is unarguably that of a mezzo-soprano, and the instrument sounds sizeable enough to hint at things to come in the rising career of this singer. I would not be surprised to learn that she is adding Carmen to her repertory of Rossini, Mozart and Handel heroes and heroines.

Heavens knows that her Latin looks and her dramatic instinct would serve her well in a role originally created by Celestine Galli-Marié, and later recreated by the great Spanish mezzo-soprano Conchita Supervia, neither of whom were dramatic mezzo-sopranos.

Or, here’s a fervent wish: a revival of the long-neglected Mignon of Ambroise Thomas, with Isabel Leonard in the title role.

The CD comes with insightful notes by Susan Youens. Adam Abeshouse perfectly produced and engineered it.

Rafael de Acha

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