Recently returned from singing the role of Norina in Donizetti’s much-loved comedy drama, Don Pasquale in Switzerland, Leslie is hoping to bring more opera to Brisbane audiences as well as giving young singers the opportunity to learn stagecraft and opera performance.
Leslie’s own musical life began as a youngster when she would dance, sing and act out the songs on her mother’s musical comedy records in the lounge room. She never imagined that singing could be a “real” career and so she pursued a lucrative career in the computer industry. But the call of the stage was too strong and after studying at the Sydney Conservatorium, Leslie joined The Australian Opera where she performed numerous roles and understudies, while being a member of the full-time chorus, and there she learned her craft as a stage performer. But bigger things beckoned and so Leslie left Australia to pursue a freelance performance career in Europe. Her roles in the Czech and Slovak Republics include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro and Oscar in UnBallo in Maschera. During her time in Europe, Leslie was engaged to record the title role in a new opera, Tom Thumb, composed by Canadian, Gerald Berg. On returning to Australia, Leslie performed The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute receiving rave reviews.
At the same time, Leslie began her association with one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest outdoor opera events - Opera on the Beach- both as an organiser and performer, singing alongside other stars of the Australian Opera such as Horst Hoffmann, Christa Leahmann, David Hobson, Joshua Bloom and Geoffrey Chard. The experience and skills gained from Opera on the Beach have since been put to great use in organising free community opera concerts in Queensland.
In 2000, Leslie moved to Brisbane completing postgraduate studies in opera and performance and joined Opera Queensland where she performed in productions of The Magic Flute,The Pearl Fishers, Andrea Chenier, The Damnation of Faust and worked with Director, Gale Edwards in her production of Sweeney Todd as well as appearing as a soloist at numerous corporate events. She then played the role of Annabel, a twelve-year old girl in Opera Queensland’s children’s opera, The Song Bird, which toured to primary schools throughout Queensland including the regions of Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Burdekin.
Leslie’s performance experience is extensive and includes the National Anthem at One Day International Cricket Finals at the ‘Gabba’, New Year’s Eve with the Queensland Pops Orchestra, the Armidale Bach Festival, Brisbane Sinfonia, Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, St Lucia Orchestra, the Sunshine Coast Orchestra, the Royal Australian Navy Band and the Australian Army Band Brisbane. Audiences have enjoyed her performances at the Brisbane City Hall and Sydney Town Hall, where she performed regularly for Nostalgia Productions, most recently with guest artist, David Hobson.
Leslie has performed at numerous functions, from corporate performances to outdoor events, and loves to use her vast operatic and performance experience to create shows for arts organisations, as well as for herself. For 4MBS Classic FM she created and directed a 1.5 hour version of Puccini’s opera Tosca, which was performed at the Powerhouse Theatre during the Festival of Classics. She showcases music made famous by Gladys Moncrieff, June Bronhill, Jeanette MacDonald and Kathryn Grayson, and has created Pavarotti Viva! which celebrates the life of Luciano Pavarotti using three tenors and a soprano.
Leslie has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including Finalist in the Shell Covent Garden Scholarship, winner of the Elisabeth Muir Scholarship, Singer of the Year by the Melbourne Welsh Male Voice Choir, Siemens Plessey Aria Award, Margaret Forbes-Smith Scholarship and the Nerissa Niblo Coloratura Soprano Scholarship.
She appears on Opera Australia’s video-recordings of Patience, Die Fledermaus and Chorus!, Vavachi Classic Occasions’ recording Showstoppers,Say Hello to the Opera for ABC Kids and has released her own CD of operetta gems called Treasures. In addition, she has premiered three new Australian works - This Endriss Night and Triste, Triste (Christopher Bowen) and The Song Bird (Sean O’Boyle).