Professor of Voice, Director of UNM Opera Theatre
Professor of Music, Leslie Umphrey, is a graduate of the University of Richmond and the Eastman School of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature. Additional studies include a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Festival, The Richard Miller Institute, Opera Works teacher training and Yale University’s directing program.
She recently made her Lincoln Center debut as the soprano soloist in René Clausen’s Requiem. With considerable acclaim, The New York Concert Review said that “soprano Leslie Umphrey was angelic in the ‘Pie Jesu.’” She has sung many and varied roles in both musical theater and opera. Some of these include Adele in Die Fledermaus, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème and Madama Butterfly in Madama Butterfly. She made her European debut as Nedda in I Pagliacci in Rome and enjoyed playing that role with several productions in the United States. Her later roles have included Michaela in Carmen and Pamina in The Magic Flute. In the early part of the 21st century Ms. Umphrey made her debut performance as Susannah in Carlisle Floyd’s opera Susannah. She continues her recital and oratorio work with orchestras throughout the United States.
Ms. Umphrey has recorded with ALBANY records and OPUS ONE recordings. The latter was recorded in Katowice, Poland with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. These were the first orchestrated recordings of John Donald Robb’s pieces, Hispanic Folksongs of New Mexico and Art Songs. Her latest recording is on the NAVONA label, Divisadero—Songs of Love and Longing.
As an opera director, Ms. Umphrey has directed productions of the following: I Pagliacci, The Beautiful Bridegroom, Le Villi, Suor Angelica, The Magic Flute, L’Elisir d’Amore, Gianni Schicchi and Die Fledermaus, The Impresario and The Turn of the Screw plus various opera scenes at the University of New Mexico. For several seasons she served as a vocal teacher in Italy and most recently directed a production of Mozart operas at the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy. She served as guest artist of the Montecito International Music Academy in Los Angeles, directing opera scenes, presenting masterclasses and recitals. This year she returns to Montecito as faculty to sing, teach and direct Zarzuela.
Ms. Umphrey is a dedicated teacher. Her students, both past and present have made their Carnegie Hall debuts as winners of the Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition, winners of “Singer of the Year” for the NATS competition several times and have won “The Encouragement Award” for the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions. Others have gone on to have careers in singing in regional opera companies such as Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera North, Sarasota Opera, Spoleto Music Festival in Italy, Opera Theater of the Rockies, The Santa Fe Opera, Opera Southwest, Tanglewood Music Festival, Portland Opera Accademia Musicale Chigiana, to name a few. Others are enjoying teaching careers in colleges and universities. Ms. Umphrey is the past Chapter President and Regional Governor of the Rio Grande National Association of Teachers of Singing. She is a member of the National Opera Association. She is the director of the UNM Opera Theatre.
“… especially the Susannah of Leslie Umphrey. She triumphs in this role with her expert acting and singing. She is convincing—from perky teenager to her descent into lunacy. Her clear soprano voice glistens in her first aria, which is ravishing. Her second is mesmerizing. There are ample money notes and phrases for a soprano who can deliver them as they should sound; Umphrey delivers beautifully.” —The Albuquerque Journal
“Umphrey, always an exceptional performer in her Michigan appearances..;was picture-perfect in her saucy, often sardonic and always note-perfect interpretation of Despina truly one of the great female comic roles in all opera.” —The Daily Telegram, Michigan
“Wedged in between big ticket musical fund-raisers and ongoing college concerts, Umphrey’s recital stood out for its programming breadth and knockout performance. Not since Santa Fe Opera’s brilliant mezzo Sheri Greenawald filled Roshong Recital Hall with her big, beautiful voice a few years ago has a singer dazzled an audience with such a huge, shimmering instrument.…Umphrey gave every music student in the audience a model for articulation – the softest and clearest German consonants and the loveliest French nasal resonance you’ve ever heard….Here as elsewhere, Umphrey’s dramatic soprano with its wide dynamic range, could shine. As she unfurled Gershwin’s big, arcing lines and moving crescendos, you had the impression she always had something in reserve. Her sweeping, disappearing moan at the end gave the performance a depth not always heard from other singers.“ —the Durango Herald, Colorado
“Volvemos al misterio con “Williams Lake,” el primer movimiento de la sinfonía “Songs of Love and Longing,” donde la voz Leslie Umphrey es acompañada por el piano de Falko Steinbach. Una obra bellísima y profunda interpretada por simples notas y la sorprendente soprano. Pura pasión!.. “ —NEW AGE MUSIC
Translation: “We return to mystery with “Williams Lake,” the first movement of the symphony “Songs of Love and Longing,” where Leslie Umphrey’s voice is accompanied by Falko Steinbach on piano. A beautiful and profound work performed by simple notes and the amazing soprano. Pure passion!“ —NEW AGE MUSIC