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TRI-CITIES OPERA in Binghamton, NY
- where it all began

Young musicians dream of attending Juilliard, or Curtis, or Peabody or some other famous music school. Richard Leech went to Tri-Cities, his first "home" - where he learned the ABCs of singing, the intricacies of foreign languages, and everything else a lad with a good voice needed to know to become a fine opera singer.

When at age 15 he was told he had a good voice, he joined the Tri-Cities Opera chorus and pleaded with the company's founders to give him lessons.
"But we don't teach children!"
was the first (and last) rebuff. Indeed it speaks volumes that Carmen Savoca* and Peyton Hibbitt, Tri-Cities' founders and its artistic directors for the past 50 years, have to this day been his only teachers. They nurtured his love of singing and taught him the principle that guides his performances:
Photo Credit: Richard Taylor
"Communication is the essence of song."

Except for a semester at the Eastman School of Music, there were no formal courses or apprenticeships for Richard Leech. Like some fabled success stories, he learned by doing - singing minor parts at first, in time graduating to bigger roles, supplementing his education with classes at the local university. At 22, already a "veteran" of Tri-Cities, he was deemed ready to take on the role of Hoffmann and made his first ever leading-role debut in May 1980. He stayed at Tri-Cities for several more years - and many more leading roles. There were welcome "interruptions" in the form of operatic debuts at regional companies. Then, to no one's surprise, the kid who "grew up on stage" stepped up to the big league.
But he returns to Tri-Cities time and again as he did this September 19 - to open the company's 50th Anniversary season with a Benefit Gala Concert, a special event which he co-chaired with Placido Domingo. Indeed, for Richard Leech, Tri-Cities Opera (where his wife Laurie Higgins is an assistant stage director) and Binghamton will always be home.
Photo courtesy of Tri-Cities Opera

* A sad footnote: Mr. Carmen Savoca passed away on July 30, 1998 - as Tri-Cities Opera was getting ready for its 50th Anniversary Season. The Gala Concert on September 19 was dedicated to his memory.

Richard Leech's leading-roles at Tri- Cities Opera:
The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach) May 1980
Don Pasquale (Verdi) May 1981
L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti) January 1982
Norma (Bellini) October 1982
Jeremiah - A World Premiere (Fink) April 1983
La Bohème (Puccini) October 1983
The Merry Widow (Lehar) January 1984
Lucia di Lamermoor (Donizetti) April-May 1985
Chinchilla - A World Premiere (Fink) January 1986
Samson et Dahlila (Saint-Saëns) April 1988
Roméo et Juliette (Gounod) February 1990
Madama Butterfly (Puccini) April 1990

Tri-Cities Opera is one of the finest regional opera companies in the United States, providing excellent training for generations of young vocal talent. Its Resident Artists Training Program is the oldest continual program of its kind in the country.



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