Two-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions in the San Francisco District (2018 and 2016), Ellen Leslie is quickly becoming a sought-after singer both in the United States and abroad. Critics have lauded her “absolutely beautiful” (Opus Colorado), "bright, clear" (The Berkeley Daily Planet) and "radiant...lovely trilling soprano" (San Jose Mercury News), and her "sweet, strong tone and earnest demeanor" (San Francisco Classical Voice).
Highlights in the 2018-19 season include a double role debut as Adina in The Elixir of Love, both with Pocket Opera and with San Francisco Opera Guild's outreach production; premiering the role of Jane Bennet in Kirke Mechem's Pride & Prejudice; touring Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Sweden as the soprano solo in Brahms' Requiem; the soprano solo in Faure's Requiem in San Francisco; a world premiere in recital with cellist Emil Miland; a presented solo recital of art songs and arias; and the Western Region Finals of the Met National Council Auditions in Los Angeles.
In the summer of 2018, as a resident Young Artist with Opera Saratoga, Ellen sang roles in The Consul, The Merry Widow, the American premiere of Rocking Horse Winner and the world premiere of Vinkensport, or the Finch Opera. In 2017, Ellen made her German debut as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in Schloss Merode, and as Rosane (Vivaldi La verità in cimento) in Leipzig. Recent engagements in the Bay Area include Micaëla (La Tragédie de Carmen) and Lady Billows (Albert Herring) at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Damigella and Amore (L'Incoronazione di Poppea) with the SFCM Baroque Ensemble, and Iris (Semele) with Pocket Opera. A skilled interpreter of the lyric soprano roles in the Gilbert & Sullivan canon, Ellen has most recently sung Josephine (HMS Pinafore) and the title role in Patience with San Francisco's acclaimed Lamplighters Music Theatre.
A lover of new music in all forms, Ellen sang in the 2015 and 2016 workshops for Santa Fe Opera's 2017 production of The (r)Evolution of Steve Jobs, with music by Mason Bates and conducted by Michael Christie. She has also premiered songs and opera roles by several emerging Bay Area composers, and received a grant to commission a full song cycle, "Charmes," by Eric Choate, which premiered in 2015.
Having made her oratorio debut at age 19 as the soprano solo in Carmina Burana with the Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Ellen is also an accomplished choral and orchestral singer and soloist. In 2018, she appeared as a soloist with the San Francisco Boys’ Chorus, and she has made frequent appearances singing with the Colorado Ballet in their production of The Nutcracker. Recent concert engagements also have included Porgy and Bess in Concert (2012) and a Fourth of July extravaganza (2014) with the Dallas Symphony, and The Planets (2013) with the New York Philharmonic, all at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. She also sang backup for Josh Groban in his 2013 performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks Ampitheatre.
Ellen grew up on an Irwin 37 sailboat in the San Francisco Bay and spent her childhood sailing around the world with her family. She earned concurrent undergraduate degrees from the University of Denver--a BM in Voice Performance and a BA in French, both summa cum laude. She returned to California to for her MM at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under acclaimed soprano Sylvia Anderson.
In 2016, Ellen split her time between San Francisco and Leipzig, Germany, where she completed her studies with soprano Caroline Stein on full scholarship at the Hochschule für Musik "Feliz Mendelssohn Bartholdy," earning a Postgraduate Diploma in Voice in conjunction with SFCM. She has also lived in Strasbourg, France, where she researched a thesis on the sociopolitical climate surrounding Bizet’s Carmen; while there, she was also invited to sing Michael Tippett's A Child of our Time with conductor Carlo Rizzi and the Orchèstre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.
Ellen lives in San Francisco with her husband, composer/conductor Eric Choate, and studies with Sheri Greenawald.
Last updated 20 February 2019