One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, soprano Renée Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. At a White House ceremony last July, the President awarded Ms. Fleming the National Medal of Arts, America's highest honor for an individual artist. Known as “the people’s diva” and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo, she continues to grace the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, now extending her reach to include other musical forms and media. Over the past few seasons, Ms. Fleming has hosted a wide variety of television and radio broadcasts, including the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series for movie theaters and television, and Live From Lincoln Center on PBS. She brought her voice to a vast new audience in February of this year, as the first classical artist to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.
As a musical statesman, Renée has been sought after on numerous distinguished occasions, from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2012, in an historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II. In January 2009, Ms. Fleming was featured in the televised We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama. Ms. Fleming has also performed for the United States Supreme Court and, in November 2009, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s “Velvet Revolution” at the invitation of Václav Havel. An additional distinction was bestowed in 2008 when, breaking a precedent, Ms. Fleming became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.
Renée began the 2012-13 season as Desdemona in Otello at the Metropolitan Opera, broadcast around the world via the MET Opera Live in HD. Spring of 2013 found her at Carnegie Hall and Lyric Opera of Chicago in André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, playing Blanche DuBois, a role she created in the world premiere. In June, she was heard at the Vienna State Opera as the Countess in Strauss's Cappriccio, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and she appeared in the same role the following month at London's Royal Opera House. She returned to Vienna as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in October, conducted by Adam Fischer. She begins 2014 with her acclaimed portrayal of the title character in Dvorak's Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In April, she will sing the title role of Strauss's Arabella at the Salzburg Easter Festival. May of 2014 will mark the Los Angeles Opera debut of Renée's Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Renée's 2012-13 recital schedule included Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Quito, Bogota, Guayaquil, Paris, Geneva, London, Vienna, Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Taipei. A January 2013 duo recital with her friend, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, toured to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Chicago, New York and Boston. Last spring, Renée sang the world premiere of Anders Hillborg's The Strand Settings, composed especially for her, with the New York Philharmonic and Maestro Alan Gilbert at Carnegie Hall. The start of the 2013-14 season found Renée opening the Houston Symphony Orchestra's Centennial season. Concerts in Nashville, Ottawa and Dallas followed. In November, Renée joined with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to present American Voices, a concert and 3-day festival celebrating the best American singing in all genres. Renée closed 2013 with New Year's Eve concerts in Dresden, under the baton of Christian Thielemann. Her upcoming recital calendar includes performances in Pittsburgh, Tucson, Las Vegas, Mesa, AZ, and St. Louis. Concerts this spring will include a duo evening with tenor Jonas Kaufmann at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and a concert with tenor Michael Schade and the Dresden Philharmonic in Abu Dhabi.
A four-time Grammy winner, Ms. Fleming won the 2013 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy Award for Poèmes (Decca, 2012), a collection of 20th-Century French music, including works composed especially for her by Henri Dutilleux. In June 2010, Decca and Mercury records released the CD Dark Hope, which features Ms. Fleming covering songs by indie-rock and pop artists. Her most recent opera dvd, Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, was released by Decca in July. Other recent DVD releases include Handel's Rodelinda, Massenet’s Thaïs and Rossini’s Armida, all three in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series, and Verdi’s Traviata, filmed at London’s Royal Opera House. Ms. Fleming's 2010 DVD Renée Fleming & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg follows Ms. Fleming and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Russia, where they explore and perform in some of St. Petersburg's most historic locations. In recent years, this fourteen-time Grammy nominated artist has recorded everything from Strauss’s complete Daphne to the jazz album Haunted Heart to the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. She recorded Alexandre Desplat's theme song, "Still Dream" for the soundtrack of the Dreamworks Animation feature, Rise of the Guardians. Her recording honors range from the 2009 Echo Award for Strauss’s Four Last Songs to the Prix Maria Callas Orphée d’Or by the Académie du Disque Lyric for TDK’s DVD production of Capriccio. In February, 2012, Ms. Fleming received the Victoire d’Honneur, the highest award conveyed by the French Victoires de la Musique.
Renée Fleming’s artistry has been an inspiration to many other prominent artists, such as Chuck Close and Robert Wilson, whose portraits of her were included in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2007 fundraising auction. Two portraits of Ms. Fleming were also created by Francesco Clemente, who revealed one in Salzburg in spring 2007, with the Metropolitan Opera displaying the other in 2008. Photographic portraits include works by Brigitte Lacombe, Annie Leibovitz, and Irving Penn, among others.
Ms. Fleming is a champion of new music and has performed works by a wide range of contemporary composers, including recent compositions by Henri Dutilleux, Brad Mehldau, André Previn, and Wayne Shorter. Among her numerous awards are the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal (2011); Sweden’s Polar Prize (2008); the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the French government (2005); Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003); and honorary doctorates from Carnegie Mellon University (2012), the Eastman School of Music (2011) and The Juilliard School (2003), where she was also commencement speaker.
An advocate for literacy, Renée Fleming has been featured in promotional campaigns for the Association of American Publishers (Get Caught Reading), and the Magazine Publishers of America’s READ poster campaign for the American Library Association. She was honored by The New York Public Library as a “Library Lion.” Her book, The Inner Voice, was published by Viking Penguin in 2004, and released in paperback by Penguin the following year. An intimate account of her career and creative process, the book is also published in France by Fayard Editions, in the United Kingdom by Virgin Books, by Henschel Verlag in Germany, Shunjusha in Japan, and by Fantom Press in Russia.
In addition to her work on stage and in recordings, Renée Fleming has represented Rolex timepieces in print advertising since 2001. In 2008, she launched La Voce by Renée Fleming, a fragrance designed for her, with the proceeds benefiting the Metropolitan Opera. Master Chef Daniel Boulud created the dessert “La Diva Renée” (1999) in her honor, and she inspired the “Renée Fleming Iris” (2004), which has been replicated in porcelain by Boehm. Having been added to Mr. Blackwell’s best dressed list, her concert gowns have been designed by Reem Acra, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano for Dior, Douglas Hannant, Christian Lacroix, Oscar de la Renta, Angel Sanchez and Vivienne Westwood. In addition to serving as the face of opera for two public transit campaigns in New York and London, Ms. Fleming has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…, The View and Prairie Home Companion as “Renata Flambé,” among numerous other media outlets.
Ms. Fleming is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the Board of Sing for Hope, and the Advisory Board of the White Nights Foundation of America. In 2010, she was named the first-ever Creative Consultant at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Board and a Vice President. She is currently curating the creation of a world-premiere opera based on the best-seller Bel Canto for Lyric Opera's 2015-2016 season.