We regret the passing of Leighton Kerner, a longtime Voice staff writer. Kerner, who covered classical music and opera for the Voice for more than 40 years, died Saturday in Manhattan. He was 79. An enthusiastic, voluble man with a vast appetite for all kinds of music (and dance), he was among the writers sent to review the new musical Rent in March 1996 because of his opera expertise. Kerner started freelancing for the Voice in June 1961 and was a staff writer from November 1983 to August 2003. He also contributed to Opera News and other publications. Kerner continued to write listings and Short List items for the Voice until a few weeks before his death.