The Erste Dame from Ontario Adores Kurt Weill

The Jugendlich-Dramatische Soprano Leah Gordon will debut in Zauberflöte at the Bayrische Staatsoper in Munich this month.

This blog continues its series of profiles of young international singers who came to Germany to sing and live. Their answers to a small set of questions show what it takes to move to a foreign place, here to Nürnberg, and pursue the career of their dreams.

Photo by Jutta Missbach

Your name:
Leah Gordon

Where are you from?
Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada

Your Fach:
Lirico spinto/jugendlich dramatisch soprano

Your favorite role:
Usually, I fall in love with which ever role I’m working on at the time. The ones I’ve sung already somehow each represent different parts of me and my life. One that I’d really like to sing because I believe it really matches my personality and voice is the Gräfin in Strauss’ Capriccio.

Best opera production you saw in Germany:
Immo Karaman’s Turn of the Screw in Düsseldorf

Craziest opera production you saw in Germany:
Not counting ones that I’ve actually been in, I guess Mahagonny in Essen. And let it be known that I absolutely adore Kurt Weill!

Photo by Ludwig Olah

Your hero in opera:
My vocal mentor.

Your hero in real life:
Anyone who can truly be happy.

Two things you like about Nürnberg:
Probably accessibility and aesthetic.

Two things you don’t like about Nürnberg:
Rigid resistance to change and the xenophobia that I’ve encountered on many levels.

A thing or habit of Germans you find funny:
The absolute necessity of greeting an entire room of strangers for example at the doctor’s office but yet refusing to speak to each other for any other reason in a public place, for example trying to pass by each other. Or people who lean out their windows just “watching”.

A thing or habit of Germans you find annoying:
Lack of sensitivity to privacy.

A thing or habit of Germans you would like to see in your country, too:
Discipline in every day life especially the awareness of unnecessary waste and our general health.

Your most recent performance:
Gertrud, the Mother in Hänsel und Gretel in Nürnberg.

Your next performance:
I am delighted to be making my debut as Erste Dame at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich this December!

Your favorite quality in a singer:
As a performer my goal is to become the connection between the music and the audience. As an audience member, I am literally moved by the vibrations of a singer who is able to open their gut and share with us the very essence of who they are through their voice. No amount of compensation through what people think is “acting” nowadays could ever substitute the intensity of such an experience!

Your favorite German word:

Find more information about Leah Gordon, including articles about her singing and life in Nürnberg at .

The following video shows Leah Gordon at the Elizabeth Connell competition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, accompanied by David Harper: Piangi, Oh! Nel fuggente nuvolo from Attila by Verdi.

You can hear more of her singing at:





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Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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