Interview: Soprano Leah Crocetto to perform a recital at Williams Center in Easton
Young American Soprano Leah Crocetto has been enthralling critics and audiences with leading roles in “Turandot,” “Tosca,” “Il Trovatore” and more ever since her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2015. Praised by The New York Times for her “agile coloratura technique and a feeling for the Italianate style … with warmth, full penetrating sound and tenderness,” Crocetto astonishes with her powerful vocal splendor and an intrinsic understanding of the poetic meaning behind each dramatic role she tackles.
Yet it is as recitalist, not as prima donna, where Crocetto feels most completely herself. “The way I chose the music I perform in a recital is that first, I’ve got to like it, and second, I have to be able to relate to it and to be completely myself in front of the audience,” she says in a phone interview from her home in Washington, D.C.
“So when you hear me in a recital, you’ll see more of me than you ever would in an opera performance. That’s why I enjoy them so much.”
You can hear Crocetto on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Williams Center at Lafayette College in Easton. Her colorful and varied program includes works by Respighi, Poulenc and Rachmaninoff, as well as a new song cycle by American singer and composer Gregory Peebles, “Eternal Recurrence.”
The concert also features standards by George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers and Sammy Fain. Crocetto will be accompanied by pianist Mark Markham, an acclaimed soloist, collaborator, accompanist, chamber musician and jazz artist, who for 20 years was the recital partner of Jessye Norman.
Crocetto replaces internationally known soprano Deborah Voigt, who had to cancel because of unanticipated surgery.
A winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Crocetto opened the San Francisco Opera’s 2016-17 season in the title role of Verdi’s “Aida.” Last season she sang Leonora in “Il Trovatore” with Oper Frankfurt, and the title role of “Tosca” with the Pittsburgh Opera.
This season Crocetto sings her first performance of Bellini’s “Norma” in concert with the North Carolina Opera, and will be soprano soloist in Verdi’s “Requiem” with the Melbourne Symphony. In May 2019 she will sing soprano II in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel.
Crocetto gives her inaugural recital appearance Nov. 8 at Carnegie Hall. Actually, her first New York City debut was as a jazz and cabaret singer at Sam’s Club on West 46th Street, while she waitressed on the side.
“I did a lot of singing in cabaret houses in New York, so Gershwin and Arlen and all that is in my blood — I’ve been singing that all my life. But I do that in a way that’s not operatic at all. I don’t like to keep a barrier between me and the audience. Because of my background in acting, jazz and theater, I just want them to feel they’re part of it,” she says.
On Saturday, Crocetto will sing in Italian, French, English, Russian and even Greek. Among this wealth of variety are songs well-known to singers, but infrequently heard in recitals.
Crocetto’s choice of a set of songs by Respighi from early 1900s is especially interesting, since so little has been written about Italian Arts songs as opposed to opera, Italy’s more “serious” vocal genre.
“I love these songs — they are so deep and emotional. I think they’re way under-interpreted, and I want to bring them back,” she says. “The one I am ending the set with, ‘Mattinata,’ is just like a cry of Thanksgiving to God or Mary — it’s totally Italian, and very operatic.”
Read the complete interview via The Morning Call