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.
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. This production was telecast throughout Europe. Following this, she made her debut with Glyndebourne Touring Opera in a signature Mozart role – Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Her 2012–2013 season also included her New York Philharmonic debut as the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah and returned to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Johannes Debus for Mozart arias. She also gave recitals in the United States and Canada and appeared with the American Classical Orchestra – an innovative period instrument group – at Alice Tully Hall in New York. She also debuted at the Festival de St. Denis in Bach’s Johannes Passion.
The music of Mozart is the centerpiece of Layla Claire’s repertoire. She has sung Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Fiordiligi in Così 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. In the 2013–2014 season, she will perform the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte in her debut with Pittsburgh Opera and repeat the role later in the season at Minnesota Opera. She will repeat Fiordiligi in a new Atom Egoyan production for her debut with the Canadian Opera Company under Debus.
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 Flórez 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, and repeated the role under the baton of Fabio Luisi on the Met’s tour of Japan in the spring of 2011. 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 a New Year’s Eve concert with the San Francisco Symphony and appearances with the 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. 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.
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. 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.