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.
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
|Photo Credit: Richard
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.
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
* 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.
leading-roles at Tri- Cities Opera:
Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)
- A World Premiere (Fink)
Merry Widow (Lehar)
di Lamermoor (Donizetti)
- A World Premiere (Fink)
et Dahlila (Saint-Saëns)
et Juliette (Gounod)
|Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
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.