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Lea Desandre

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Mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre emerged as a rising star on the French operatic scene in the late 2010s, working with some of the top historical-performance conductors in the business. She has recorded several albums for the Erato label. Of French and Italian background, Desandre was born in Paris in 1993. She took voice lessons in Paris and studied in Venice under early music contralto Sara Mingardo. Desandre also studied dance for 12 years but was forced to abandon her career as a dancer after an accident. In 2013, she won first prize in a youth competition at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, and the following year, she made her debut in a contemporary work, Nicolas Bacri's Così Fanciulli, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. After appearances with conductor William Christie's opera company Les Arts Florissants in operas by Handel and Purcell, Desandre became strongly interested in Baroque repertory; a choice confirmed when she won admission to Christie's training academy Le Jardin des Voix. Emerging in 2016, she appeared in a production of Luigi Cherubini's Medea at the Opéra de Dijon and in Baroque opera productions at major French festivals. At the Victoires de la Musique Classique awards in 2017, Desandre took home an operatic newcomer of the year award, and she also won the HSBC prize at the Festival d'Aix en Provence as well as a young soloist award from France's public broadcasting system. Since then, her career has accelerated. Desandre made her debut at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 2017 in the title role in Marin Marais' Alcyone, in a production directed by Jordi Savall, and she has kept up a schedule of major roles in largely unfamiliar music. In addition to Savall and Christie, the list of conductors with whom Desandre has worked is a who's-who of the early music scene and includes John Eliot Gardiner, Raphaël Pichon, Marc Minkowski, and Emmanuelle Haïm, among others. She has returned twice to the Opéra-Comique in 2018 for the production Et in Arcadia Ego, based on music by Rameau, and for the role of Amore in Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurydice. That year, she made her recording debut paired with soprano Sabine Devieilhe in an album of Handel cantatas on the Erato label. Although her career has been centered mostly on Baroque works, she has sung Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, at Versailles palace, and she appeared in a concert production of Offenbach's La Périchole in Salzburg in 2018. Desandre released the album Amazone with the early music ensemble Jupiter in 2021, and the following year she was paired with countertenor Iestyn Davies on the album Eternal Heaven: Handel.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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