Soprano Layla Claire’s “penetrating purity” (The New York Times) combined with “emotive force and a poised sensitivity” (Palm Beach Daily News) has quickly made her a sought-after artist on the world’s preeminent operatic, symphonic and recital stages. Of her February 2011 performances as Marenka in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride under the baton of James Levine, the Associated Press noted, “With big, expressive eyes, her long red hair commanding attention, she displayed an exciting, bright tone and shimmering piano notes… thrilling.”
Praised for thoughtful characterizations and exquisite musicality, Layla Claire’s interpretations of Mozart’s heroines have garnered accolades throughout North America and Europe. She was hailed as “the quintessential Susanna” for her 2009 performances of Le Nozze di Figaro at Palm Beach Opera and with James Levine and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra she performed the roles of Fiordiligi (2007) and Donna Anna (2009) to great acclaim. With the Curtis Opera Theatre she sang the roles of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro. 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.
Following July 2011 performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Festival de Lanaudière and four concerts as a featured artist in the Met’s Summer Recital Series, Layla Claire can be heard at the Tanglewood and Manchester Music Festivals before beginning a robust fall schedule. In October, she makes her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall, just one of many significant firsts in the 2011-12 season including debuts with the Dallas, Toronto, Baltimore and Kansas City Symphonies as well as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. In December she creates the role of Helena in the Metropolitan Opera’s star-studded Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island conducted by William Christie. In March 2012 she reprises her first operatic role, this time on the Met stage, as Gianetta in Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore alongside Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Florez and Mariusz Kwiecien. Returning to Symphony Hall in April 2012, she performs Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink.
In July 2010, Layla Claire made her Boston Symphony debut, on the opening night of the Tanglewood Music Festival conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, a performance she reprised to begin the 2010-11 season with the BSO and James Levine. 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.” Layla made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Tebaldo in Nicholas Hytner’s 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. February 2011 marked her role debut as Michaela in Bizet’s Carmen with The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nader Abbassi.
The 2009–10 season marked the beginning of Layla Claire’s participation in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera. In December, she performed Manon’s aria, Adieu, notre petite table at L’Opéra de Montréal’s 30th Anniversary Gala. A recording of the Gala was subsequently released on the ATMA Classique label in January of 2010. Layla made her San Francisco Symphony debut as a featured soloist at the Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball and gave a recital presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. In the same season she performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Virginia Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Charlotte Symphony and appeared with the Norrkoping Symphony (Sweden) before heading to France to attend the Académie d’Aix-en-Provence.
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”.
This fall Layla Claire returns for her final season as a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera. Originally from Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, she studied voice at l’Université de Montréal before attending the Curtis Institute of Music. She currently resides in New York City.