We interviewed the American soprano Leah Crocetto. Crocetto is a young star of the opera, who recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Liu in Turandot. First of all, Leah, how did you start to love opera? and how have you decided to become an opera singer?
I have been an opera lover since I was a kid. I come from a big Italian-American family and we always had opera playing…usually Pavarotti. Now that was a voice. I used to imitate him when I was a little girl and I had a natural ability to sing opera, so I decided then, that I would be an opera singer. I have always known that i what i would be doing and wanted to do. I never had a “back-up” plan or a second choice. It has always been opera!
How would you describe your voice?
This is a hard question. I never listen to myself, so I can’t describe what it sounds like…but technically speaking, I am a lyric soprano. I love singing coloratura and legato and long phrases.
We can describe you like a verdian soprano (your next debut is Aida). What do you think is a Verdi’s Voice?
I am definitely a light Verdi soprano. I won’t tackle Ballo and the like for a few more years, but Aida? Absolutely. Aida encompasses all that a Verdi Soprano must be. The ability to sing high floaty notes like “Numi pieta…” and “O patria mia”. You also have to have the ability to soar above the orchestra and in ensembles. Also one must have the agility in the voice to move the phrases. Verdi is definitely my favorite music to sing.
On October you debuted at the Metropolitan Opera. What were the emotions and the expectations of this debut?
My debut was actually 22 October. It was a night I will never forget! I do not remember the actual performance. I just remember the curtain call and holding hands with the legendary James Morris and the warmth I felt from the audience. Before that night, I never got to rehearse on the set….I was scared to death! BUT, James Morris got there early and walked the set with me. He was so gracious and walked me through everything. It was an amazing evening and one i will never ever ever forget in my whole career!!
In your repertoire there are Mimí and Liú….What there is of Leah in this two Puccini’s woman?
Mimi and Liu. These women are both complex, but in their complexity, they have one big similarity. They love with all that is in them. I like to think I do the same. Liu is everything good in the world and Mimi is a coquette who is a bit frivolous but with a big heart. As I approach each role, I try to find something of myself to put into the character. With Mimi it is easy to bring in past relationships and use those feelings; the volatility, the passion, the anger, the joy, the heartbreak. With Liu, there is loyalty. I use my relationships with my family to bring this character to life. If you know me, you know that my family is the most important thing to me, and I use them for character development a lot!
Next months you will debut the role of Semiramide. How are you preparing this new role?
I love Rossini serio! I first sang Maometto secondo in Santa Fe and fell in love with the style! So I am preparing for Semiramide much in the same way…lots and lots of coachings! The important thing is singing the coloratura passages as much as you can to get them in your body! That is what I have to do in order to prepare. Lots of repetition!
Last year you’ve played Madame Lidoine in Les Dialogues des Carmelitées, that was Leyla Gencer’s role at the world premiere. What was the experience to deal with a different music style, quite far away from Verdi and Puccini?
Singing Madame Lidding was a dream come true! We sang it in English as per the composers instruction, and it was the most moving experience of my life. The sisterhood that was created between the women who played the other nuns, and I was one of my most treasured experiences. Musically, the line couldn’t be more different than Verdi and Puccini. Poulenc’s vocal line is definitely not as direct as Verdi and not as legato as Puccini, BUT still works marvelously. It helps that my character has the best music in the opera! I would definitely sing this opera again!
What are your dream roles?
I am blessed because the roles that I get to sing are my dream roles!! Mimi, for instance. Which soprano doesn’t want to sing Mimi? A role that has eluded me that I am dying to sing is Carlyle Floyd’s Susannah. That is some good music! I love the character and I love the story. I identify a lot with Susannah and I would love to bring her to life someday!
Check out my newly launched website http://www.leahcrocetto.com for my upcoming engagements!! I am super excited about the recitals I have coming up in Baltimore and the Kennedy Center, and Donna Anna in Santa Fe, and before that I will be doing back to back Rossini with Semiramide in Bordeaux and Maometto Secondo at the Canadian Opera Company. Then…AIDA!!!!!! San Francisco Opera has given me so may amazing opportunities and I am so excited to sing the iconic role of Aida in my artistic home!
Thanks so much to Leah Crocetto and Toi Toi Toi!