Monday, November 23, 2020

Meet the Artist: Madison Leonard

Madison Leonard (Adina), Philip Newton photo

Rising soprano Madison Leonard returns to Seattle Opera as Adina in our streaming production of The Elixir of Love. The 2018 winner of the Metropolitan National Council Auditions made an impression on Seattle Opera audiences in 2019, when she not only made her company debut as Chrisann Brennan in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, but returned to sing Frasquita in Carmen and then starred in Rigoletto as Gilda. The Coeur d'Alene native shares more about what it's like to be singing during the global pandemic and how this time has impacted her personally and professionally. 

You spent quite a bit of time at Seattle Opera last year. What's one of your favorite 2019 memories of singing here? 
On the opening night of Rigoletto last year, I was experiencing what any non-bungee-jumping person would consider an extreme adrenaline rush. Right after our high, fast-paced duet, the Duke ran off into the wings leaving me alone in the middle of a very sparse stage. As the applause quieted, Maestro Carlo Montanaro began leading, what I can only assume was the orchestra playing beautifully. But all I could hear was my own heartbeat thudding in my ears. We had a revolving stage for this production, so as I stood right at the exact center (in pink, fleece pajamasvery sophisticated), I watched the little lights from the wings, house, and rafters slowly spin around me. Fortunately, muscle memory helped me out with the first few lines of singing, and off we went. But for those few moments, I felt like I was floating weightless somewhere out in space. I'll never forget that one suspended moment in time.

What most excites you about this Elixir production? 
Being able to make music with other people during this time is a gift. It's truly as simple as that. I felt so fortunate to return to Seattle and tell a story (albeit a bit COVID-modified) with my colleagues. None of it would have been possible without the tenacity, creativity, and commitment to art-making from the entire staff of Seattle Opera. 

Madison Leonard (Gilda) in Rigoletto ('19). Sunny Martini photo

How can Seattle Opera fans support you, and opera artists in general right now?
While we wait for all theaters and creative spaces to be fully, safely opened to the public, artists absolutely need financial support. The Artist Relief Tree is a relief fund for artists (of all mediums) who have been affected by cancellations due to Covid-19. They are currently working toward their $1M goal to aid all of the thousands of artists on their wait list. If you feel inclined to give a tax-deductible donation to help an artist pay their rent or buy groceries this month, please visit

Madison Leonard in rehearsal for Carmen with dancer Alex Crozier (2019). Philip Newton photo 

What’s been the biggest challenge for you this year? And what's been the silver lining you've found?  
Without the many thousands of miles of travel and constant hubbub or life as a musician, I've found the lack of structure quite challenging. Even during times between gigs in the past, there is almost always a lingering deadline or projects on the backburner endlessly whispering for attention. But after the slew of cancellations, I was left without much on the calendar. On the plus side, that meant a lot more time with my husband in our beautiful little home in Switzerland! Slowly, I began to find structure in my days and started planning out projects and goals for myself, which has been an incredibly valuable process.

Maison Leonard (Chrisann Brennan) and John Moore (Steve Jobs) in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs ('19). Philip Newton photo

What is one thing you will never forget from 2020? (Or a lesson that you’ve learned this year that you will carry forward?).
During this challenging year, I've come to terms with two sides of the exact same coin: I love to make music, but I am also more than a musician. As 2020 has pulled the proverbial rug out from under me (and all of us), I've realized that I have many other interests and talents and characteristics that make me me beyond singing opera. I will count every single day that I work as a musician as a sublime gift, but I now know that I would survive without that. I mean, my sourdough is really good....

Why does opera still matter—even though we cannot all be together in the opera house right now?
More than ever, human connection matters. Stories matter. And the intangible magic of live theater really matters. We will one day all gather in the opera house together again, and it will be glorious. But until then, we can still relish in the rich history, the poetry, the human emotions that are so fundamental to opera. And laughter! Our Elixir production is the perfect dose of lightness and laughter to brighten anyone's day! I hope that all of the subscribers enjoy it.

Madison Leonard (Frasquita), right, with Rodion Pogossov (Escamillo) and Sarah Coit (Mercédès) in Carmen ('19). Sunny Martini photo

Enjoy Madison Leonard singing Adina in The Elixir of Love from now until Dec. 4, 2020. Subscriptions to our 2021 Spring Season are on sale and include this program and our full 2020 virtual fall season. Learn more at 

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