Isabel Leonard named Rice Shepherd School’s 2023-24 Aleko Endowed Master Class artist

Isabel Leonard

Three-time Grammy Award winner Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano and star on the world’s leading stages and screens, has been named the Rice University Shepherd School of Music’s 2023-24 Aleko Endowed Master Class artist.

Isabel Leonard. Photo credit: Sergio Kurhajec
Isabel Leonard. Photo credit: Sergio Kurhajec

Leonard’s multi-day residency includes a public master class April 14 in Brockman Hall for Opera’s Morrison Theater and four days of private coaching sessions with Shepherd School opera students.

“In opera, we often laud our medium as being the epitome of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk,’ or one major art form resulting from the marriage of so many others,” said Joshua Winograde, director of opera studies. “Fittingly, as a leading artist in the opera industry, Isabel Leonard has become known as a true master of all the art form’s parts in equal measure: vocal technician, musician, actor, interpreter of text, dancer/athlete, music style expert and influencer and many others. There is no one better positioned to guide the Shepherd School singers down that same path than my friend Isabel, and I’m honored she agreed to lead the Aleko residency.”

The Aleko Endowed Master Class Artist Series brings leading artists and teachers to campus to work with students. Leonard’s residency at the Shepherd School is made possible in part by Houston Grand Opera, which has agreed to this schedule of classes and coachings while Leonard is in Houston preparing for her lead role as Maria in “The Sound of Music,” opening April 26.

Leonard’s master class April 14 will feature Shepherd School opera students Tessa McQueen (soprano), Audrey Welsh (mezzo-soprano), Kellan Dunlap (tenor) and Adam Partridge (baritone) with Bethany Self (principal coach, opera studies) as pianist.

“Being part of the vibrant performing arts community of Houston provides unparalleled opportunities for collaboration with our artistic partners, helping us to welcome world-class artists to Shepherd School stages and classrooms,” said Matthew Loden, dean of the Shepherd School of Music. “Isabel Leonard’s residency will undoubtedly enhance the artistic development of our music students.”

Leonard regularly appears on the world’s leading opera stages including The Metropolitan Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Wiener Staatsoper, Los Angeles Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, San Francisco Opera, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Salzburg Festspiele and Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Leonard’s engagements during the 2023-24 season include Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni” and Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” with LA Opera, Ravel’s “Chansons madécasses” in concert with the Met Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, the title role in a new production of Offenbach’s “Songbird” with Washington National Opera and the title role in “Cinderella” with Bavarian State Opera.

The master class with Leonard April 14 is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission. Shepherd Society members at the Ambassador level ($250) and above get priority access March 20. Reservations will open to the general public March 22 at