La Boheme, Royal Opera House Covent Garden
"I have rarely seen a substitute seize her chance more exuberantly. With her diamond-clear voice and natural comic timing she seemed born to play this part. Leese is one potential star in the making." Anna Picard, The Times; London 25th October, 2006
Don Giovanni, NZ Opera
“Best of all was Anna Leese's superbly sung Donna Elvira, her intonation faultless, her portrayal of this turbulent character utterly convincing”.
- Roger Wilson, Dominion Post Wellington 13th October 2014
La Bohème, Canadian Opera Company
"Vocally vivid, [Anna Leese as Musetta]... turned Act II into a mad scene, and stopped the show with her famous aria Quando m'en vo. I found myself wishing Puccini had given her more to do."
- The Globe and Mail, 20 April, 2009
Elijah, Cardiff 1 March, 2009
"...the sheer vocal presence of Anna Leese's fine soprano provided an element of theatricality that might have surprised even Mendelssohn."
- The Guardian; 5 March, 2009
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New Zealand Soprano Anna Leese completed a Bachelor of Music degree with First Class Honours at the University of Otago. Anna was recipient of an impressive number of Australasian awards and prizes. She has won the Royal Overseas League Vocal competition (being named best overseas competitor in the same competition) and the Richard Tauber Prize as well as the Maggie Teyte and Sybil Tutton awards. Anna has also represented New Zealand in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
Since graduating from London's RCM Benjamin Britten International Opera School, Anna has performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as Tamiri (II Re Pastore), Musetta (La bohème), Micaela (Carmen), First Lady (Die Zauberflöte) and Echo (Ariadne auf Naxos). Other roles have included Musetta with the Canadian Opera Company and at the Royal Albert Hall; Antonia (Les contes d’Hoffmann) for Opera Köln; Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) for Flanders Opera; Biancofiore (Francesca di Rimini), Suzel (L’amico Fritz) and Tatyana for Opera Holland Park; and Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte) with the Classical Opera Company, UK. In New Zealand she has performed Ilia (Idomeneo), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Tatyana, Majenka (The Bartered Bride) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni).
Anna made her debut at the 2006 BBC Proms in all all-Mozart programme with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Sir Roger Norrington, and has appeared in a number of opera gala concerts with Jose Carreras. Further concert engagements have included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in Madrid with Carlo Rizzi, Elijah with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony with the Malaysian Philharmonic, Mahler’s 2ndSymphony and Messiah with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the roles of Anna (Nabucco) and Freia (Das Rheingold) in concerts with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Eckehard Stier, as well as recitals with the Prince Consort at the Wigmore Hall.
Recent engagements include Brahms' Requiem with St. Thomas's Choral Society, London, Donna Elvira for NBR New Zealand Opera, the Dunedin Sound Concert and Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, both with Southern Sinfonia, The Last Night of the Proms in Palmerston North, Elijah(Mendelssohn) in Napier, ‘Summer Matinee’ with Auckland Philharmonia, a tour with ‘Takiri’ for Chamber Music New Zealand, and Messiah with the Queensland and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.
Last year Anna sang the role of Mary/Luck in a new work by Ross Harris (libretto by Vincent O’Sullivan), Brass Poppies, for New Zealand Festival in both Wellington and Auckland, Nelson’s Opera in the Park and Rotorua’s Lakeside Concert, Strauss’ Capriccio (final scene) with Orchestra Wellington, Mozart’s Mass in C minor with Bach Musica NZ, and Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise): Symphony No. 2 with the Auckland Choral Society. In 2017 her engagements include Micaela in Carmen for Festival Opera in Napier and Nielsen Symphony No. 2 with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Anna has recorded Elgar’s The Apostles in Canterbury Cathedral with the Canterbury Choral Society, a debut recital disc for EMI with Graham Johnson, a Haydn disc on the Michael Storrs Music label, and ‘Italian Love Songs’ under the Champs Hill label.