Former co-director of Lyric Opera, San Diego
Since starting as a child performer at the age of twelve, Leon’s career has spanned two continents and included over three hundred productions. Leon was accepted at New York’s Juilliard School and studied under such teachers as John Houseman and Gian Carlo Menotti. Natker earned a bachelor's degree from Roosevelt University in theater and communications.
Leon began singing synagogue music as a child, leading youth services at Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie, Ill. After Juilliard, he served as Ba'al Tefillah at Chicago's Grand Synagogue with Cantor's Richard Tucker and Paul Zim. He was a soloist for the Jewish People's Choir of Chicago before becoming High Holy Days Cantor for Temple Beth Israel. Upon moving to San Diego, he became Hazzan Sheni for Cantor Sheldon Merel at Temple Beth Israel San Diego. Leon was Acting Cantor for two years before becoming Cantor for Congregation Dor Hadash -- a post he held for twelve years.
He made his directing debut at the age of 24 with a production of Benjamin Britton’s version of The Beggar’s Opera. Leon has worked with such companies as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oak Park Civic Opera, DuPage Opera Theater, Lincoln Opera, San Diego Opera, The Goodman Theater, California Music Theater, Chamber Opera of Chicago, San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Symphony, San Diego Civic Light Opera and was a founder of Chicago Opera Theater, where he sang in over a dozen productions.
In 1989, Leon was appointed General Director of the San Diego Gilbert and Sullivan Company, a position he held for 23 seasons.
For six summers, Leon was on the faculty of The American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. In addition, he has taught master classes at Arizona State University, Univ. of Missouri Kansas City, Point Loma Nazarene College, and North Dakota State University.