Siena Heights University benefit concert a chance for Leah Crocetto to give back
A couple of years ago when soprano Leah Crocetto was back in her Adrian hometown for a recital with pianist Mark Markham, Sister Peg Albert, president of Siena Heights University, invited her to dinner.
During the meal, “we talked about a lot of things,” Crocetto said. And among the results of that conversation was that the internationally acclaimed soprano will present a benefit concert for her alma mater early next month as part of SHU’s 100th anniversary celebration.
The concert is Sept. 7 at McLaughlin Music Hall on the SHU campus. A preconcert social hour and dinner begins at 5 p.m., with the performance at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $100 for the dinner and concert together, or $40 for the concert only, and are available online at sienaheights.edu/LeahC, or by calling 517-264-7138. All proceeds benefit the SHU Student Scholarship Fund.
During her career, Crocetto has established herself firmly in the operatic world and as a recitalist and concert performer both in the U.S. and internationally, and a glance at just some of her recent and upcoming work shows the variety that’s on her artistic resume.
Her schedule in the last few months alone included a Verdi Requiem in Melbourne, Australia, with the Melbourne Symphony, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival.
Then, coming up after her SHU appearance, there’s a gala opening-night concert in October at the Michigan Opera Theater, where she will sing with tenor Michael Fabiano; the role of Desdemona in the Washington National Opera’s “Otello” in late October/early November; and Liu in “Turandot” with the Palm Beach Opera in January 2020.
Desdemona “is one of my most-performed roles,” she said, and Liu was the role that gave her her Metropolitan Opera debut, among other performances of the part. “I love the people at the Palm Beach Opera, and we’ve been trying to get a project for me there,” she said. “I’m singing Liu because why not?”Her SHU concert — for which she arranged some of the music herself — reflects her vocal versatility. It features a wide range of music, including songs from the Great American Songbook, pop tunes, covers of Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder songs, “some obscure Judy Garland stuff,” contemporary pieces, and “I might throw in an aria or two,” Crocetto said, laughing. A chorus of SHU students will join her for one piece.
She’s also including “a walk down Memory Lane” of the musicals she was in as an SHU student. While she actually left the university short of completing all the credits for her degree, one of the other results of that conversation with Albert, SHU’s president, was that she was able to finish the necessary work.
Todd Schreiber, who led the ensemble backing her at a concert at the Croswell Opera House earlier this year, will be her bandleader again this time. The rest of the band includes Dan Kesterke, Cody Cooper and Jon Diener.
“Todd is, like, my best friend in the whole world. He’s my oldest friend,” Crocetto said. “It’s really cool when we can get together.”
Schreiber echoes that sentiment.
“We mutually have that admiration for each other,” he said.
The two first met through mutual friends at the Croswell Opera House, and he remembers that when he first heard her sing, his reaction was, “She is the voice the world needs to hear.”
“Leah is that unique person in that it doesn’t matter what genre she’s (singing). She’s just uncanny,” he said. “She’s such a smart singer. It’s so rare to be as versatile as she is.”
Crocetto said she’s very pleased to be returning to SHU to present this concert. Not only is she “in love with the program,” she said, but it allows her to do something for the institution that gave her much.
“I’m really excited to go back to my alma mater, to the place that was there for me at some of the hardest times in my life,” she said. “I’m looking forward to giving back.”