Today on “opera-toonity,” we meet Leandra Ramm.
I’ve met other opera devotees through blogging. But so far, my opportunities to meet professional opera singers have arisen via Twitter. One of the best things about being on Twitter.
I put “opera#” into the Twitter search engine, and a link to Leandra’s Twitter page popped up. Her username is LeandraOpera, which immediately caught my attention (because the opera singer in my book is named Leandro) and because her Twitter page is so fetching–beautifully designed, full of professional photos.
She is a young professional singer/actress–a mezzo soprano who has toured both in the USA and abroad with a host of renowned Opera theatre companies, landing keys roles in productions such as Rigoletto, Man of La Mancha, Iolanthe, Cosi Fan Tutte, the premier of Mario and the Magician, and more recently the off-Broadway musical Hell’s Kitchen.
I sent her a direct message on Twitter, and asked if I could feature her on Sunday Best. I was fascinated to learn how one becomes an international performer at such a young age.
Welcome to “opera-toonity,” Leandra.
You had a great deal of success by age 14. When did you begin taking voice lessons?
I sang my whole life, and I took private voice lessons starting at the age of about 10. I always sang in school choir and was the lead in my community children’s musicals beginning from when I was in 2nd grade. My mom is a pianist, and I also played flute and piano growing up as well as take dance lessons, so I was surrounded by music. I was in a NYC chorus for youngsters and was spotted out as having an exceptional voice when I was 14. I was encouraged to take private classical voice lessons at that time. By that summer, I won an international vocal solo competition.
At what age did you realize you were destined to be a performer?
I knew I wanted to perform my whole life. My mom said I sang before I spoke! I always was giving shows as long as I can remember; my sister and I would sing and dance for our neighbors and family members all the time. I remember when I was in kindergarten the teacher went around the class and asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. All of the parents of the children were there and I said proud and strong “I want to be a movie star!” I already knew at that age that I wanted to make it my profession to be an entertainer. I love performing and being on stage.
Where did you grow up? And how old are you?
I grew up in New York City. I am proud to say I am a born and raised New Yorker! I am 25 years old.
You’ve also done a lot of musical theater roles. Which do you prefer–opera or musical theater?
I love performing both musical theater and opera actually. They are each very different to perform, but both are equally challenging and gratifying. When I sing a role in an opera or in a musical, I approach it the same way. I always read the script /libretto first before learning any of the music. I translate everything into English if it’s in a different language. I study my character (where they are from, their background, their feelings, their point of view on life in general and the story that is being told in the show, etc.). Then I look at the music, the arias or songs my character is singing, and approach it from an acting point of view. I say the words of the song as a monologue and then sing the music. I approach the entire role in the same way. I just sing in a different style, depending on what the music is. When I sing musical theater roles I use my vocal technique but I change the style of my singing to adapt to the style of the show. When I sing a Mozart opera, for example, I am sure to stay in the classical Mozartian style. In both operas and musicals, they are telling a story and giving out a message to the audience. So in that respect they are similar, I just adapt my performance to fit to the style of the show or opera.
When were you on “Good Morning America” and what circumstances led to that appearance?
I have been on international television for a very unique reason! I was born a very different way than most people. I was born from the Repository for Germinal Choice. My parents weren’t able to have children so they went to this sperm bank. The donors were men of superior intellect and some even Nobel Prize winners or Olympic gold athletes. A book was written recently called “The Genius Factory” by David Plotz, which talked about this repository and the children that were born from it. I went on television on shows such as Good Morning America, The View, Anderson Cooper 360 a few years ago to talk about my story and my feelings on being born this unique way.
What is your typical day like?
Well, currently I am singing on a cruise ship that is traveling around the world! So I don’t quite have a typical day at the moment. One day I am in South America and the next I am in Central America…a week later I am in Europe! So I am doing a lot of traveling and sight seeing at the moment. In the morning I go off the ship and tour around the different places I may be. (I am in the Caribbean until April of this year and then I will be in the Mediterranean until June). After my morning excursions, I come back on the ship and usually have a rehearsal onboard in the afternoons. I perform at night, usually two shows back to back for the passengers onboard.
If you fulfill your ambition, what is your life like in five years? In ten years?
In five years, when I am 30, I would see myself as a successful singer! I would love to be performing on the world’s greatest stages including opera houses, theaters and well known venues in the US and abroad. In ten years, at 35, I would love to be at the peak of my career with records out and a popular reputation as a well known and admired singer.
Do you have a favorite opera? Role? Composer?
Mozart operas are my favorite! I love Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, La Clemenza di Tito and others. Mozart is my favorite composer and I think his operas are just brilliant. His opera buffa are so comical and timeless and his opera seria has some of the most beautiful arias in them. The music is so pleasing to listen to and his vocal ensembles are just gems. My favorite Mozart roles include Cherubino, Dorabella, Sesto and Zerlina. Other favorite roles of mine from operas other than Mozart operas include: Meg from Little Women by Mark Adamo, Stephano from Romeo et Juliette by Gounod and Rosina from Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini.
What was your gig in Cozumel?
I was in Cozumel, Mexico because of the cruise ship I am working on. We stopped there and I was able to have an amazing day out and about!
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Thank you, Leandra! Mozart operas are my favorite, too. I hope you’ll keep in touch and send us a word, a photo, or a review once in a while to post for my readers. And best of luck as you travel the world, sharing your gifts.