Kirsten Leslie has performed nationally and internationally as both singer and actress. Her repertoire is quite diverse: opera/operetta such as Gilda in Rigoletto and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus; contemporary opera such as the “Flier” (or Amelia Earhart) in Daron Hagen’s Ameliaand Orquidea in Daniel Catan’s Salsipuedes; musical theatre such as Anne inA Little Night Music, Maria in West Side Story, Magnolia in Showboatand Carrie in Carousel; and straight theatre such as Imogen in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
She gave her Carnegie Hall debut singing Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, Vivaldi’s Gloriaand John Rutter’s Magnificatconducted by the composer. She was asked to sing with Maestro Rutter once again at Carnegie Hall in the Messiahand his Magnificat. Miss Leslie soloed in a Carnegie Hall premiere performance of Rossini’s Ermionewith well-known tenors, Barry Banks and Bruce Ford.
Opera performances include Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor with Florentine Opera; Blondchen in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail; Susanna in Le Nozze Di Figaro, Norina in Don Pasquale, Antonia in Les Contes D’Hoffmann; Morgana in Alcina; Polly from the Beggar’s Opera and Leila in The Pearl Fishers.
Most recently, Miss Leslie performed as Virtuoso Soloist with the Handel Week Festival in Oak Park in which she sang three Handel solo cantatas, one of which is among Handel’s most challenging – Laudate pueri dominum, HWV 236. Other oratorio and cantata solo performances include Israel in Egyptwith the Houston Symphony; Carmina Buranawith the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, CA, conducted by Carl St. Clair; Mozart’s Coronation Masswith the Illinois Symphony; Vivaldi’s Gloriawith the Apollo Chorus in Chicago; In Terra Paxby Gerald Finzi with the Elgin Symphony; Mendelssohn’sSt. Paul’s Oratorio, Haydn’s Seasons, Mozart’sDavide Penitente, Bach’s Magnificat, Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity, Mozart’s Mass in c minor, Faure’sRequiem,Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Schubert’s Mass in G, Mozart’s Missa Brevis, Handel’s Samsonand Judas Maccabeusand Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
Her extensive background in musical theatre includes such leads as Maria in West Side Storywith Hunter Foster (Tony nominee) as Tony; Magnolia in Showboat with Michael Lackey as Ravenal;Luisa in the Fantastiks, and Young Sally in Sondheim’s Folliesand much more.
While employed with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Miss Leslie developed the character of “Nancy Hallam”, an actual 18thcentury “triple threat” – singer/dancer/actor (and harpsichordist too). She was featured on the cover of the Colonial Williamsburg Journal along with an article about her research of Miss Hallam. She also was leading lady in several 18thcentury plays including Steele’s The Tender Husband, Ryder’s The Provoked Wifeand Rowe’s The Tragedy of Jane Shore.
She was “Artist in Residence” at Middlebury College’s prestigious Intensive Italian and German Study Programs. She received a scholarship to study at the University of Florence in Italy where she was “Visiting Artist”. Performing in Italy often, she won the “Padre Pio Sacred Music Competition” in San Giovanni Rotondo, Puglia.
A member of Actor’s Equity Association as well as SAG and AGMA, Miss Leslie played Anabella in the musical production of A Christmas Carolat Westport Playhouse (Connecticut) directed by Tazewell Thompson, famed stage director for various productions of theatre and opera around the world including the New York City Opera and Opera Bastille in Paris.
Miss Leslie was a Metropolitan Opera Competition District Winner; and has toured as a soloist throughout Italy, Holland, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. She has a Master’s in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from the University of Michigan. Currently she is an international freelance artist and teaches private voice and piano.
Miss Leslie, having lived and performed in Europe frequently is conversational in both Italian and German. You can read more about Miss Leslie and listen to sound clips on her website – www.kirstenleslie.com.