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RICHARD LEECH

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Americans Richard Leech and Renée Fleming "storm the Bastille" in Massenet's Manon
Photo credit:Jacques Moatti Courtesy: KKN Enterprises
In the summer of 1997, two of America's top home-grown opera singers sang the lead roles in the quintessential French opera Manon, by Massenet. Nothing unusual about this until one learns that they did it in Paris at their debut with the Opéra National (Bastille), the secondary roles were sung by equally home-grown (i.e., thoroughly French) singers, and - best of all - the French loved it! Richard Leech as the Chevalier des Grieux and Renee Fleming* in the title role were hailed by audiences and critics alike for their beautiful voices and their excellent diction. It could only have been an exhilarating and fulfilling experience for the American artists, and certainly for Richard Leech, a validation of his dictum - Communication is the essence of song. Indeed the French audience could not have enough. This summer Richard Leech returned to give 5 previously unannounced performances that ran from June 27 to July 9, 1998. This time, another acclaimed young American soprano Ruth Ann Swenson sang the title role.

Manon wasn't Richard Leech's first engagement in Paris (he had sung in concert performances at the Châtelet earlier), or France for that matter ( in July 1990 he sang Faust* at the Chorégies d'Orange). Although Richard Leech spends only a limited amount of time in Europe each year, one feels certain that Des Grieux is only the first of many more portrayals at the Bastille. He may have been brought up on Italian opera, but through the years Richard Leech has also become a master of the French style.


*As shown on an earlier page, Renée Fleming also sang Marguerite to Richard Leech's Faust in the MET production of Gounod's opera which featured an all-star cast (Samuel Ramey, Dmitri Hvorostovsky/Dwayne Croft making up the rest) - a knockout performance by a "dream team" in which the singers brought out only the best in one another.

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THE RICHARD LEECH PAGES:
HOME THE ARTIST & HIS CAREER HIS RECORDINGS 1998-99 SEASON
AS DON JOSE AS ROMEO AT GRANT PARK FESTIVAL A FAN'S THOUGHTS

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