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Richard Tucker Music Foundation Names Mezzo-Soprano Isabel Leonard as Winner of 2013 Richard Tucker Award

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation is thrilled to announce that mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard – hailed as “a rising star” by the New York Times – is the winner of the 2013 Richard Tucker Award. This prestigious prize carries the foundation’s most substantial cash award, of $30,000. Often referred to as the “Heisman Trophy of Opera,” it is conferred annually on an opera singer at the threshold of a major international career; previous winners include such luminaries of the opera world as Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, David Daniels, and Joyce DiDonato.

“As a native New Yorker, I can think of no greater honor than to be named the winner of the Richard Tucker Award,” said Leonard when she was given the news. “Receiving this award is a personal validation of the work I’ve done in my career so far, and I am excited to carry on the legacy of Richard Tucker and the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.”

“We are thrilled that Isabel Leonard has been chosen to be the 2013 Richard Tucker Award winner.  She’s an extraordinary, incredibly talented singer with a gorgeous voice and beautiful stage presence who promises to bring great honor to the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and the memory of my father,” said Barry Tucker, President of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and son of the Brooklyn-born tenor.

The foundation has also announced the winners of the 2013 Richard Tucker Career Grants and Sara Tucker Study Grants, who were selected by means of audition earlier this month at New York’s 92nd Street Y, thanks to the generous support of the Agnes Varis Trust. A complete list of recipients is provided below.

The coming months see Isabel Leonard make her role debut as Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as appearing in concert with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and at Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival. Among her recent highlights are role debuts as Miranda in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest at the Met, and as Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at the Canadian Opera Company. Signature roles include the title character of Offenbach’s La Périchole, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro; at Glyndebourne, the Financial Times declared: “In a nicely balanced cast, my favorite is Isabel Leonard’s Cherubino – a stage animal with charisma written all over her.”

Since making her company debut in Roméo et Juliette in 2007, the mezzo has become an audience favorite at the Met, besides singing at Santa Fe Opera, Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, and Opera Colorado. European engagements have taken her to the Vienna State Opera, Opéra Nationale de Paris, Opéra Nationale de Bordeaux, the Bavarian State Opera and the Glyndebourne and Salzburg Festivals. Leonard has sung with orchestras including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. High-profile gala appearances include the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s 75th Birthday Gala in Carnegie Hall, where Leonard also recently made her Zankel Hall recital debut. A graduate of the Juilliard School, her numerous previous honors include the Met’s prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award (2011).

In addition to Leonard’s win, the foundation is pleased to announce that seven other young American artists have been awarded study and career grants. 2013 Richard Tucker Career Grants of $10,000 each go to sopranos Nadine Sierra and Erin Morley, both of whom have already won recognition in their advancing careers. 2013 Sara Tucker Study Grants of $5,000 apiece go to five young singers displaying great promise at the start of their professional careers: sopranos Tracy Cox and Lauren Snouffer, tenor Anthony Kalil, and baritones Will Liverman and Zachary Nelson. These seven winners were chosen by a panel of opera professionals following auditions held on April 10 and 11 at New York’s 92nd Street Y.

Founded in 1975, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to perpetuating the artistic legacy of the great Brooklyn-born tenor by nurturing the careers of talented American opera singers and by bringing opera into the community. Through awards, grants for study, performance opportunities, and other activities, the foundation provides professional development for singers at various stages of their careers. It also offers free performances in the New York metropolitan area and supports music education enrichment programs. Further information about foundation’s work is available at

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