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Canadian soprano Layla Claire has been celebrated as a unique artist with a voice of special color and expressivity. She has been hailed in the operas of Mozart in both the Americas and Europe as well as for her prowess in recital and in concert with the world’s leading orchestras. Her 2014/15 season opens with her debut with Opernhaus Zürich in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (Governess). In another company debut, she then takes on the role of Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s tragic opera Les Dialogues des Carmelites with the Washington National Opera. A definite highlight of Ms. Claire’s season will be her return to the Metropolitan Opera under maestro James Levine as Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress. In concert, Layla will appear with L’Orchestre Métropolitain under maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. Ms. Claire just completed a triumphant run at the Glyndebourne Festival as Donna Anna. Other highlights of her 2013/14 season included debuts with Pittsburgh and Minnesota Operas (Pamina in Die Zauberflöte), as well as her debut with the Canadian Opera Company in a new production by Atom Egoyan (Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte). A 2012 graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, Layla Claire scored her first European triumph in a new Vincent Boussard production of Mozart’s early La Finta Giardiniera at the Aix-en-Provence Festival (European telecast). She has sung Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte under the baton of James Levine at the Tanglewood Festival. Layla Claire is a regular soloist with the world’s leading orchestras. She has a particularly close relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. With them she has performed Mahler’s Second Symphony under both James Levine and Michael Tilson Thomas, the latter at the Tanglewood Festival. She also sang Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream under Bernard Haitink there. In recital, Layla Claire has appeared at Weill Hall/Carnegie Hall, Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and as a featured artist in the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Recital Series. Most recently, she appeared in recital with mezzo soprano Susan Graham at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2014). In 2010 Layla Claire became the first recipient of The Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award. In 2008 she received the Mozart Prize at the Wilhelm Stenhammar International Music Competition and was a Queen Elisabeth Competition Laureate. She is also a CBC Radio-Canada Jeunes Artistes recital winner, a recipient of J. Desmarais Foundation Bursaries, and a proud recipient of a Canada Council Grant and the 2013 Virginia Parker Prize winner. She has taken prizes at the Palm Beach Opera Competition, The George London Foundation Competition, and the Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists competition. She was recently featured in two documentaries: the BBC’s “What Makes A Great Soprano?” hosted by Dame Kiri te Kanawa and the PBS American Masters special “James Levine: America’s Maestro.” Originally from Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, Ms. Claire studied voice at l’Université de Montréal before attending the Curtis Institute of Music.

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“Layla Claire’s voice should probably be declared a national treasure.  Her ample, clear, flexible soprano has power as well as grace, with a tone coated in addictive, sweet carmel.” 
       Musical Toronto, January 2013

       
LAYLA CLAIRE, Soprano
Biography

Canadian soprano Layla Claire has been celebrated as a unique artist with a voice of special color and expressivity.  She has been hailed in the operas of Mozart in both the Americas and Europe as well as for her prowess in recital and in concert with the world’s leading orchestras.

Her 2014/15 season opens with her debut with Opernhaus Zürich in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (Governess). In another company debut, she then takes on the role of Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s tragic opera Les Dialogues des Carmelites with the Washington National Opera. A definite highlight of Ms. Claire season will be her return to the Metropolitan Opera under maestro James Levine as Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress.  In concert, Layla will appear with L’Orchestre Métropolitain under maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Dvorak’s Stabat Mater.

Ms. Claire recently completed a triumphant run at the Glyndebourne Festival as Donna Anna. Other highlights of her 2013/14 season included debuts with Pittsburgh and Minnesota Operas (Pamina in Die Zauberflöte), as well as her debut with the Canadian Opera Company in a new production by Atom Egoyan (Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte).
A 2012 graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, Layla Claire made her European debut in a new Vincent Boussard production of Mozart’s early opera La Finta Giardiniera at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.  This production was telecast throughout Europe on ARTE TV. The music of Mozart is the centerpiece of Layla Claire’s repertoire.  She has sung Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte under the baton of James Levine at the Tanglewood Festival. At Curtis Opera Theater, she sang Donna Elvira and Susanna with Palm Beach Opera (for which she was hailed as “the quintessential Susanna”).  In 2010, she appeared with the Académie d’Aix-en-Provence where she was awarded the Prix des amis d’Aix-en-Provence for best Mozart performance.

While a member of the Lindemann Program, Layla Claire created the role of Helena in the Met’s star-studded Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island conducted by William Christie (now available on Virgin Classics DVD).  She performed Giannetta in L’Elisir d’amore there opposite Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau.  She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Tebaldo in Nicholas Hytner’s new production of Verdi’s Don Carlo conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  She also sang Marenka in The Bartered Bride in a Stephen Wadsworth production conducted by Levine at the Juilliard School.  Of this production, the Associated Press wrote, “With big, expressive eyes, her long red hair commanding attention, she displayed an exciting, bright tone and shimmering piano notes… thrilling”.

Layla Claire is a regular soloist with the world’s leading orchestras.  She has a particularly close relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  With them she has performed Mahler’s Second Symphony under both James Levine and Michael Tilson Thomas, the latter at the Tanglewood Festival.  She also sang Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream under Bernard Haitink there.  Other symphonic work has included appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Charlotte Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic.  She has appeared at leading summer festivals performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Festival de Lanaudière, Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center under Louis Langrée and Dvorak’s Requiem and Haydn’s Seasons at the Grant Park Music Festival under Carlos Kalmar.  Of the Dvorak, Chicago Classical Review noted, of her August 2010 performances of Dvořák’s Requiem at The Grant Park Music Festival, “she possesses a rich, luminous instrument and her sensitive, expressive singing consistently illuminated the text, with supremely affecting vocalism.”

In recital, Layla Claire has appeared at Weill Hall/Carnegie Hall, Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and as a featured artist in the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Recital Series. Most recently, she appeared in recital with mezzo soprano Susan Graham at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2014). In 2010 Layla Claire became the first recipient of The Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award. In 2008 she received the Mozart Prize at the Wilhelm Stenhammar International Music Competition and was a Queen Elisabeth Competition Laureate. She is also a CBC Radio-Canada Jeunes Artistes recital winner, a recipient of J. Desmarais Foundation Bursaries, and a proud recipient of a Canada Council Grant and the 2013 Virginia Parker Prize winner. She has taken prizes at the Palm Beach Opera Competition, The George London Foundation Competition, and the Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists competition. She was recently featured in two documentaries: the BBC’s “What Makes A Great Soprano?” hosted by Dame Kiri te Kanawa and the PBS American Masters special “James Levine: America’s Maestro.”  Originally from Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, Ms. Claire studied voice at l’Université de Montréal before attending the Curtis Institute of Music.

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Reviews

"Layla Claire was a wonderful Fiordiligi...acting and singing her role with humour when needed, depth when called for. Her second act aria, Per pieta, was superb"

Robert Harris, Globe and Mail

"[Layla] Claire fielding some glorious tones in her upper register that drew bravos from the opening night crowd"

Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star

"Layla Claire’s elegant Donna Anna boasts diamante coloratura and is alertly communicative in the recitatives"

John Allison, Daily Telegraph

"Layla Claire’s Donna Anna dominates through the size of her voice and the electric current that runs through it"

Financial Times

"Layla was recently listed on WQXR's 40 under 40 Opera Singers! "

Fred Plotkin, WQXR

"The tall, blonde Claire has a ravishing soprano voice of trumpet-like clarity with creamy tragic colourings, and she comports herself with a stillness that gives a real moral intensity to Anna's ambiguity about her boyfriend Ottavio"

Ismene Brown, Arts Desk

"The stand-out vocal presence was Layla Claire, also Canadian, whose Donna Anna revealed a rich dramatic soprano, occasionally hard toned but oozing with class and possibility"

Lewes Glyndebourne, The Guardian

"Perky and with big, expressive eyes, her long red hair commanding attention, she displayed an exciting, bright tone and shimmering piano notes, and her third-act aria of lament was thrilling."

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press

"B.C. native Layla Claire was a lovely Marenka, with a winning presence and a delicately, delectably shimmering voice that more than once called to mind Pilar Lorengar, who was my very first, and still most cherishable, bartered bride"

Patrick Dillon, Opera Canada

"Among the singers, slim, red-haired Layla Claire made the biggest impression as Mařenka, the bartered bride. She is a talented, affecting actress, both flirting and sorrowing, and her voice has a Central European sort of vibrato and a winning, plangent smoothness and rose on occasion to an opulent high C. Too, she worked her irritations out in dance steps that seemed unusually well integrated into her character"

John Yohalem, Opera Today

"Claire, who has also appeared with Levine at Tanglewood, sang with a beautifully resonant, iridescent voice that is sure to destine her for a significant career. She also showed a wonderful grasp of the role’s different facets. For instance, in her duet with the hapless Vasek, she deftly balances a slightly mischievous side in trying to convince him that Marenka is a shrew and would cheat on him (he thinks she is someone else) with a genuineness that earns his trust. And Claire made an emotional high point of the tender aria near the end, when Marenka thinks (wrongly) that Jenik has betrayed her, which she followed up with some convincingly assertive singing in confronting him"

George Loomis, The Classical Review

"Layla Claire, in her company debut, contributed a Tebaldo of charm and wit."

F. Paul Driscoll, Opera News

"Everything came back into sharp focus, however, with the quiet, dignified entrance of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, joined by soloist Layla Claire, whose gleaming soprano emerged from the enveloping warmth of their voices like a soul in ascending flight"

Kalen Ratzlaff, Opera News

"To single out each member of the cast would be a difficult undertaking as all involved are deserving of recognition, but it would be simply criminal not to mention the fine work of Layla Claire. Claire’s beautiful vibrato, clean line, agile voice, and full bodied sound provided the vocal highpoint (among many) of the evening. Each of Claire’s arias rightly received the warmest and largest reception of the night. Her natural portrayal of the role, without any of the dramatic gestures often associated with opera, showed that acting and performance is not being ignored… We hope to not sound too cliché, but last night was Ms. Claire’s star is born moment"

Family Circle

"Soprano Layla Claire was the quintessential Susanna. Her bright soprano rang true and she was perfection in this role. Her last solo in Act IV, Deh vieni non tardar, was sung beautifully"

Rex Hearn, Palm Beach Artspaper

"The luminous soprano Layla Claire’s penetrating purity blended beautifully with Ms. Blythe’s lustrous phrases."

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

"Soprano Layla Claire made her Pittsburgh Opera debut as Pamina, and I hope she’ll come back soon….Her voice was big and rich throughout, made all the better by strong acting, pinpoint accuracy and fine control, particularly in her second act aria"

Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Soprano [Layla] Claire has an exceptionally appealing voice in her middle and upper registers — clean and clear with just the right amount of warmth. She retains tonal luster up to the high B flats and has ample agility."

Mark Kanny, TribLIVE.com – Pittsburgh’s News Source