Born in New Zealand in 1981, Anna Leese's introduction to music was predominantly choral, singing in church choirs, the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir and the Tower New Zealand Youth Choir. She graduated after earning several prizes from the University of Otago, and has gone on to win an impressive list of awards and aria prizes.
As a member of the Benjamin Britten International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, Anna's performances included Female Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with Bernard Haitink. She made her debut at the 2006 BBC Proms in an all Mozart programme with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Sir Roger Norrington, and sang the Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall.
As an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, Anna has sung Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She made her debut with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as Musetta in La Bohème, returning as Micaela in Carmen and first Lady in Die Zauberflöte; future roles for the Royal Opera include Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos and Musetta. She sang her first Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) for the NBR New Zealand Opera and made her North American debut as Musetta for the Canadian Opera Company.
Anna's solo performances include the Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder, Brahms Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Mendlessohn's Elijah, Bach's St John Passion, Handel's Messiah, and Faure's Requiem. She has performed, Mahler's Second Symphony with Bernard Haitink, and Donna Anna in excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni with the London Mozart Players under Andrew Parrot.
Operatic roles include Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo with the Auckland Opera Studio, Female Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and Rosalinde in Strauss's Die Fledermaus, all for the Benjamin Britten Opera School and Juliette in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette with the British Youth Opera. She has performed the role of Tamiri in Mozart's Il re Pastore at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House (where she made her debut at age 24) and three Mozart heroines Fiordiligi, Countess Almaviva and Tamiri with the Classical Opera Company.
In 2006 Anna understudied Arminda in Finta Giardiniera, Musetta in La Boheme and in January 2007 she sang the role of Michaela in Bizet's Carmen with ROH. Since then she has performed Musetta in La Boheme, Erste Dame in Die Zauberflote and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, all at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
On the concert stage Anna has sung with several of the world's most-loved singers. She performed with Andrea Bocelli in Auckland and with Jose Carreras in Newcastle, Seoul and Taipei. Another highlight (Anna is an avid All Blacks fan) was performing with Dame Kiri te Kanawa in Twickenham Stadium in 2005 for Jonah Lomu's return to rugby sevens.
Anna will be the first ever artist in residence at the New Zealand Singing School in Napier residency early in 2010. She is currently studying privately with Lillian Watson in London and undertaking a busy singing schedule.
Anna is the recipient of two Awards from the Arts Foundation. She was a donation recipient from Gillian and Roderick Deane through the Award for Patronage in 2008, and in 2010 she received a New Generation Award.
Anna was one of 20 finalists in the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Finalists were selected from more than 600 singers from 68 countries.