Latina Takes Home 'Heisman Trophy’ Of Opera

Isabel Leonard’s career has hit a new high note.

The mezzo-soprano has won the "Heisman Trophy of opera," taking home this year's Richard Tucker award.

The New York native, whose mother is from Argentina, won the award just days after making her debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall.

This year the 2013 prize marks the centennial of the birth of the great tenor Ruvn Tucker, whom the award is named after.

Each year the nonprofit Richard Tucker Music Foundation awards the prize - plus $30,000 - to "an American singer poised on the edge of a major national and international career.”

In a review, the Financial Times newspaper in  London praised Leonard's signature role of Cherubino in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" at the Glyndebourne Festival in Scotland, saying the mezzo playing a young man in love became "a stage animal with charisma written all over her."

A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, Leonard has appeared at opera houses from Chicago and Santa Fe to Vienna, Munich and Paris, and with the Chicago and Boston symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

She's sung at the famed Salzburg Festival, and later this year, will perform at Japan's Saito Kinen Festival..

Past recipients of the award have included soprano Renee Fleming, mezzo Joyce DiDonato and tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Also announced Monday were recipients of career and study grants sponsored by the foundation, which perpetuates the Brooklyn-born tenor's legacy by nurturing singers and bringing opera into the community through free performances and education programs.

The foundation started in 1975 shortly after Tucker died at 61. His funeral was on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, where Leonard, 31, has become a favorite with audiences since her 2007 debut in Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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