Alumni Focus: Joseph Canuto Leon

man in glasses looking upName: Joseph Canuto Leon

Major at ISU: Music Education

Graduation Year: 2013

Hometown: West Des Moines, IA

Current Residence: Dallas, Texas

What were you involved in during your time at ISU? Iowa State Opera Studio, Stars over VEISHEA, Iowa State Singers, Iowa Statesmen

What do you currently do for a living? Opera Singer

Can you share a particularly interesting or inspiring story that has occurred in your career? Recently, I was cast in American Baroque Opera Company's production of Acis and Galatea, and I came to find out my costar was Alex Longnecker, who I first met on our first day of Mary Creswell's voice studio in 2009. After four years of Iowa State and then four years of being roommates in Texas, it was crazy and awesome that we would be cast together in a professional show, especially with him living in Manhattan and I in Dallas. You never know when you'll run into your Iowa State classmates!

Are you involved in Music, Theatre, or the Performing Arts in any ways outside of your profession? I also still sing a lot in professional choirs. The training I got from Dr. Rodde has helped me be able to make good money on the side as a choral singer when opera is scarce (particularly during the pandemic!)

Are there other ways you participate in your community and engage as a Citizen Artist? The main way (and thing I recommend to all performers) is make sure to go to every show playing in your city. Support the symphony, ballet, theatre, and choral scene. You never know when you may have a cathartic moment, or when your congratulations to a performer after the show might make their day. Be a SUPPORTIVE COLLEAGE.

How did your time at ISU prepare you for your career? The best part of Iowa State theater for me was the amount of individual attention and stage time I received. With no graduate students, I had a few roles under my belt AND lots of time to hone my craft with Brad during SOV. That process was vital as I got to Grad School and beyond, as I had already began figuring out my process to perform a role. Lots of "bigger" schools don't give you that advantage, and I am so thankful for that.

What was your favorite experience in music or theatre at ISU? Has to be Candide! This was the first fully staged opera I did in school, and it is still one of my most precious stage memories. Singing "Make our Garden Grow" with my closest friends will always be an experience I cherish.

What was your favorite class while you were at ISU? Why? Voice lessons with Mama C (Mary Creswell). They were half voice lesson, half therapy session, and I wouldn't be the artist or person I am today without her.

How was your involvement in music and theatre beneficial in different parts of your life? I met my best friends in the world during my time at Iowa State. They are still my support system today, and I wouldn't have gotten anywhere professionally without their support.

Any words of wisdom for current or prospective students? Take the time to enjoy what you are working on right now. It's easy to get lost looking to future, but really trust and love the process as you work. Once you love the process instead of the product, the product will become great anyway. Take the time to talk to your faculty at ISU. They are not just world class musicians, but potential mentors that WANT you to succeed. Whatever success I've accomplished doesn't come without Mary Creswell, Jodi Goble, Don Simonson, Brad Dell, Jim Rodde, Lord and Lady Sturm, and Jacob Harrison believing in me and pushing me to be better every day. If you let them, they can help you reach goals you didn't think were possible. I know they did for me.