Mezzo-soprano Crawford brings accessible opera to Juneau

Washington D.C.-based singer to perform Sept. 27

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mezzo-soprano Leneida Crawford says her opera recitals are enjoyable and accessible, even for the novice.

"My goal is to always have fun," she said. "Even though there are some very, very serious things that we do - you know because people are being murdered all the time in opera - it will be fun. I think it's a very enjoyable evening and very accessible."

Crawford, a professor of voice at Towson University in Baltimore, will perform alongside the accomplished Washington, D.C.-based pianist Susan Ricci at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Northern Light United Church. Tickets to the event, sponsored by Juneau Lyric Opera, are $15 in advance or $18 at the door, and are available at Hearthside Books or by calling the opera company at 586-ARIA.

Crawford and Ricci will also host a master class at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28, in the Egan Lecture Hall at the University of Alaska Southeast campus.

Crawford has become well-known for her vocal abilities, with the San Francisco Chronicle describing her as "a fine-grained mezzo-soprano of remarkable agility with viola-like colors." She has performed in venues across the globe, including Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and has presented American art songs in places like Shanghai, China and Vienna, Austria.

Crawford has performed with a number of opera companies, including Opera Fairbanks when she appeared as Suzuki in last year's production of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Saturday's concert will be her first time performing in Juneau.

Crawford said the first half of Saturday's concert will include classic opera arias ranging from George Frideric Handel to Giuseppe Verdi. The second half of the concert will feature American art songs, which Crawford and Ricci specialize in.

"We do three American opera arias, and two sets of American songs," Crawford said. "That is what we have been working on for a number of years, is different American art songs."

Crawford said she likes to talk to the audience prior to each song to bring people into the story of the music.

"It's a regular recital, but instead of notes that everybody reads, I always like to talk and tell about sort of what's happening in the situation or the opera or why we chose certain things," she said.

There will also be translations of the songs for the audience to follow along, Crawford said.

"We try to pick things that are very accessible to people, even to people who don't regularly go to hear classical music."

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or

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