Born on 14 February 1959, Renée Fleming is one of the most beloved and celebrated singers of our time. Indeed, with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry and compelling stage presence, this soprano has captivated audiences worldwide for the past four decades. Winner of many accolades, at a White House ceremony in 2013 President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, America's highest honour for an individual artist. Winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Voice, she brought her vocal prowess to a vast new audience in 2014 as the first classical artist ever to sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the Super Bowl.
As a musical stateswoman, Renée has sung at numerous prestigious occasions, from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2014 she sang in the televised concert at the Brandenburg Gate on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Another prestigious performance was when in 2012 she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II. A ground-breaking distinction came in 2008 when Renée became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala. Indeed, one can truly say that Renée and the Met are one and the same thing, as her most famous performances were also held in this famous theatre, and this CD is precisely what it's all about.
The beginning of Fleming's Met career is famous: in 1991 she stepped in at the last moment as the Countess in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, and her surprise debut received instant acclaim. It launched a remarkable artistic relationship, with Fleming singing beloved operas from the standard repertoire, as well as championing operas never before heard at the Met. She has sung more than two hundred and fifty performances there, more than at any opera house in the world, and the tally continues to grow. No wonder Renée describes The Met as 'my musical home, the theatre where I feel welcome amongst friends, backstage, on stage and in the audience'.
Produced by Grammy-winning producer David Frost, this spectacular and gorgeous double CD-set begins, obviously, with an excerpt from the 1991 Figaro debut.
Listen — Mozart: E Susanna non vien ... (The Marriage of Figaro Act III)
(485 3569 CD1 track 1, 0:01-0:34) ℗ 1994-2015 New York Metropolitan Opera :
Subsequently, the tracklist continues in chronological order of her roles at the house, allowing listeners to experience the development of Fleming as an artist of incomparable ability and dramatic timbre over three decades, featuring music from nineteen productions and gala concerts, and featuring duets with the likes of Cecilia Bartoli, Susan Graham and Samuel Ramey.
Listen — Carlisle Floyd: That's mighty pretty singin', Susannah
(Susannah Act III)
(485 3569 CD2 track 2, 0:01-0:49) ℗ 1994-2015 New York Metropolitan Opera :
The set also includes liner notes featuring Fleming in conversation with Mary Jo Heath, radio host at the Met for fifteen seasons, telling the behind-the-scenes stories of these unique performances. A gem of an issue dedicated to one of today's great divas, whose thrilling voice has excited and captivated audiences for more than three decades.
Listen — Korngold: Marietta's Lied (Die Tote Stadt Act I)
(485 3569 CD2 track 17, 3:58-4:54) ℗ 1994-2015 New York Metropolitan Opera :
Sound is excellent all round. This is simply unmissable, even if you are not an opera buff.
Copyright © 13 February 2023