“Leona Mitchell brought [Madame Butterfly] to exquisite life AND Puccini probably would have wept again, as many did Saturday night when Ms. Mitchell sang her heart out in sorrow and in death at the agony of her betrayal.”
Oklahoma native and lyric soprano Leona Mitchell graduated from Enid High School before attending Oklahoma City University on a music scholarship. She graduated in 1971 and won the Kurt Herbert Adler Award of the San Francisco Opera and received a $10,000 Opera America grant to study with St. John Metz in Los Angeles. She debuted with the San Francisco Opera Company and debuted at the Metropolitan Opera Company in 1975.
GRAMMY Award-winning Soprano, Leona Mitchell has emerged as one of America’s most beloved and celebrated Sopranos. Mitchell spent 18 seasons as a leading Spinto Soprano at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she essayed many dramatic and lyrical roles such as Aida, both Verdi Leonora’s from La Forza Del Destino and Il Trovatore, Manon Lescaut, Boheme, The Masked Ball, Madame Butterfly, Liu in Turandot, Madame Lidouine as well as Mozart, and Handelian roles. She has three DVD’s with the Three Tenors: “Ernani” with Luciano Pavarotti, “Turandot” with Placido Domingo and “Carmen” with Jose Carreras.
Mitchell has sung for four United States Presidents: Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. She also sang for George Bush, Sr., when he was Vice President. Mitchell has also sung at some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses including the Berlin, Rome Caracalla, Vienna, Verona, Paris, London, Chile, Buenos Aires, Rio, Canadian, Mexican, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Santa Fe, Bordeaux, Marseille, Parma, and Hamburg companies, to name a few. Mitchell sang with most of the major symphonies of the world. Many of the world’s greatest conductors have worked with Mitchell, namely Zubin Mehta with the New York Philharmonic, James Levine with the Chicago Symphony, Seji Ozawa with the Boston Philharmonic, and Kurt Mazur with the Israeli Philharmonic.
Mitchell is a highly regarded recitalist and has been presented in concert at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Geneva, Sydney, Hong Kong, Japan, Tokyo, the Los Angeles Music Center, Australia, the UCLA Concert Series, Ambassador Auditorium, Paris, and Australian Centers. She is no stranger to television, and has appeared on the Merv Griffin Show, Good Morning America, the CBS Morning Show, Dick Cavett Show, Jerry Lewis Telethon, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala, the ABC coast-to-coast Gala Statue of Liberty Celebration, along with many “Live from Lincoln Center” and Met series.
Mitchell has been the recipient of many wonderful awards from her state. She belongs to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, the Jazz Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame. Mitchell was named an Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador by Governor Brad Henry in 2003. Mitchell holds a Bachelor’s of Music from Oklahoma City University and two honorary doctorates, one from the University of Oklahoma and the other from Oklahoma City University. She also attended the master’s program at the Julliard School of Music. Mitchell is married to Elmer Bush, her manager, and they have one son, Elmer Bush, IV.
Leona Mitchell was one of fifteen children born to Doctors Hulon and Pearl Mitchell and began her early vocal training in Enid, Oklahoma’s Antioch Baptist Church choir.
Mitchell was born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma.