By Barb Van Atta
Former Metropolitan Opera and Tri-Cities Opera tenor Richard Leech today (July 28) was named Director of Resident Artist Programs at Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) in Detroit. Leech, who grew up in Broome County, will head MOT’s newly created young artist program, Michigan Opera Theatre Studio.
MOT President and CEO Wayne S. Brown said the new program, launching with the 2015-16 season, will offer full-time engagement to artists in the early stages of a professional career in opera. According to an MOT press release, studio artists will gain experience through main stage and community performance opportunities and will hone their skills through master classes and individual training. Studio artists will be featured in an annual show mounted specifically for the Studio program, starting with a 2016 production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land.
In a press release, Brown praised both the Studio plan and its new leader: “Following a nationwide search, we are delighted to welcome internationally renowned singer and coach, Richard Leech, to MOT. He will lead this new initiative to complement main stage and other community and educational programs. Through this latest program, young artists will enable MOT to provide a year-round presence in our community in a variety of settings.”
“Richard Leech has enjoyed an accomplished career as an internationally celebrated tenor in the world’s leading opera houses,” said Dr. David DiChiera, founder and artistic director of MOT. “I cannot think of anyone more qualified to mentor these young artists as they prepare for significant careers. It will be a pleasure to work with him.”
In the MOT press release, Leech described DiChiera as “one of the true heroes of opera in America.” The tenor, who has relocated to Detroit from Binghamton, said, “In a career that has given me so much already, I couldn’t hope for a more rewarding ‘next step’ than being involved in the creation of this program and helping train the next generation of talented artists as they work to make their own dreams a reality.”
More about Leech
For more than 30 years, lyric tenor Richard Leech interpreted many of the most demanding and well-known roles of the Italian, French and German repertoire both on disc and on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses. From 1989 to 2014 he sang nearly 200 performances of more than a dozen leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera. In 2012 he joined the voice faculty of Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts and Rutgers Opera Institute, where he will remain an adjunct professor.
He attended Eastman School of Music and Binghamton University and credits his success to the training he received under the long-term mentorship of Tri-Cities Opera co-founders Peyton Hibbitt and the late Carmen Savoca. He made his operatic leading role debut at TCO.
More about MOT
Michigan Opera Theatre was founded in 1971. The company’s mission is to serve as a major cultural resource to the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. Visit www.michiganopera.org.