Girls of Summer
GEORGIA ROWE introduces LEAH CROCETTO, the rising soprano who sings Anna in Santa Fe Opera's upcoming Maometto II.
Crocetto in Houston Grand Opera's The Rape of Lucretia, 2012
© Felix Sanchez 2012
Leah Crocetto is heading to New Mexico for a summer of firsts. Making her Santa Fe Opera debut, she'll sing Anna in Maometto II. It's her first time in the role — and the first time the company has produced Rossini's opera seria. "I'm looking forward to it so much," says the soprano. "I'm such a fan of Santa Fe Opera — for the past two years I've gone on my vacation just to be there. This is a brand-new production, using the critical performance edition. It's never been performed before. And David Alden is directing, so it's bound to be amazing!"
Crocetto has been preparing the role for over a year, and she offered a taste of the results in concert at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre last December, singing "Giusto ciel." Her voice — large and lustrous, with formidable chest tones and a dazzling top — sounded tailor-made for Anna's aria. "It's some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard," she says. "It's the epitome of a pleading aria, just one heartstring after another being pulled." She also appeared to have her conception of the ill-fated character fully formed. "She's caught between two cities, she makes the mistake of choosing love — and it definitely doesn't end well. But I think she's righteous." Often praised for her keen dramatic focus, Crocetto studied vocal music at Moody Bible College and theater arts at Siena Heights University, and she delves into roles with singular focus. "Because of my theater background, acting is so important to me. Character development is kind of my favorite part."
Born in South Carolina, Crocetto identified opera as an early career goal but sang jazz and musical theater after college. When she returned, completing three years as an Adler fellow in San Francisco, the opera world took notice. A 2010 Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she represented the U.S. at the 2011 Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Competition, where she was a finalist in the song competition. Since then, she's been racking up firsts — and raves — with startling regularity. Her first Liù, in San Francisco's 2011 Turandot, had audiences in thrall. This year, she bowed at Houston Grand Opera as the Female Chorus in Britten's Rape of Lucretia. From Santa Fe, she is planning to return to Europe for a Rossini Stabat Mater. But Maometto may be one of her few forays into Rossini operas. "Unless someone revives Guillaume Tell," she says, smiling. "I'd love to sing Mathilde."
In the meantime, Crocetto seems destined for Verdi roles. She made her European debut as Leonora in Il Trovatore in Bordeaux; this fall, she'll sing Desdemona in a Venice Otello. 2013 will bring a Verdi Requiem in Calgary and another Desdemona in Frankfurt. She hopes to perform Violetta and Luisa Miller eventually. But she's planning carefully: "I just want to keep learning, keep growing, be the most prepared artist I can be."