Each year, season subscribers to The Dallas Opera get a chance to vote on their favorite of all the singers who debuted with the company during the previous season. Votes are tallied and the winner receives the "Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year" award. This year's award-winner was no surprise to anyone who saw the company's electric Barber of Seville. Soprano Isabel Leonard stole the show with her mesmerizing performance as Rosina in that production.
Leonard had stiff competition this year from another leading lady who made an impressive TDO debut this season. Mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine was fantastic in Carmen, giving a memorable, passionate performance in the opera's title role. They are both the kind of singers that make old music come alive and feel fresh and new. Leonard, however, does so effortlessly and flawlessly. When you hear her sing, you don't soon forget it.
Leonard is a rapidly rising opera star internationally and Dallas audiences were lucky to get to hear her in the role of Rosina. She was stunning -- the kind of singer who makes even the most difficult music sound easy and who's perfectly lovely tone never waivers. She is also gorgeous and is an incredibly talented actress. Here's hoping we get to see her on stage at the Winspear again in the years to come.