Renée Fleming - Kudos

Ravinia Festival, July 2010

Chicago Tribune July 26, 2010

No Eschenbach birthday bash would have been complete without an appearance by soprano Renee Fleming, the most celebrated of the artists he has mentored and collaborated with. The diva, looking as glamorous as ever in a stunning red gown with a floor-length chiffon shawl, thanked Eschenbach for his early support and for the advice he has given her through the years that has helped her grow as an artist.

How much she has grown was evident in her rapturous and moving account of Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs." Her voice, its creamy richness and radiant tonal float having made this affecting valedictory a signature piece, has taken on new colors — an earthier, more coppery depth — since 1998, when she and Eschenbach performed the cycle at Ravinia. And her singing now probes more fully the emotional complexity of the texts. [...]

The encores — another Strauss song, "Cacilie," and "Marietta's Lied" from Korngold's "Die Tote Stadt" — brought the pavilion crowd to its feet in thunderous appreciation.

- John von Rhein


Chicago Sun-Times July 26, 2010

At the forefront of it all was Fleming who, in her stunning candy apple gown, gave an entrancing traversal of Richard Strauss' magnificent "Last Four Songs." These masterpieces are tailor made for warm summer nights in which a gifted singer virtually "suspends time for twenty minutes" -- as Fleming herself once said of singing these gems.

This high caliber carried over to the encores, where Fleming, 51, treated everyone to two longtime favorites of hers, Strauss' "Cacilie" and Korngold's aria "Marietta's Lied" from his opera "Die Tote Stadt."

- Bryant Manning


The Classical Review July 2010

Rain threatened, but the onstage star power—in the person of American soprano Renee Fleming—was dazzling. So it was no surprise that the Ravinia Festival’s pavilion was nearly full and its damp lawns well-peppered with picnickers for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert Saturday night. [...]

Fleming and Eschenbach have been frequent partners in the Four Last Songs, recording the Strauss cycle together in Houston, and their performance Saturday had the relaxed quality of two colleagues who know each other well. .... [S]he floated Strauss’ long, plaint lines with easy grace and a bright, rich tone. She was most impassioned in the two encores: Strauss’ Cacilie and Marietta’s Lied from Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. In the Strauss, appealing to an absent lover, she was as ardent as a love-obsessed teen-ager. Only a fool would decline such a beguiling invitation.

- Wynne Delacoma

Armida, Metropolitan Opera, April 2010

The New York Times April 13, 2010
Renée Fleming has always made very particular and personal choices of operatic roles. Over the years, the managers of the Metropolitan Opera, fully appreciative of Ms. Fleming’s vocal artistry and star power, have been ready to accommodate her. The company has mounted house premiere productions of three strikingly diverse operas — Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah,” Bellini’s “Pirata” and Handel’s “Rodelinda” — specifically for Ms. Fleming.

On Monday night the Met obliged Ms. Fleming with another house premiere, Rossini’s “Armida,” in a fanciful production by the director Mary Zimmerman. In requesting this fantastical, infrequently heard 1817 work, which, with two intermissions, lasted nearly four hours, Ms. Fleming was hardly playing it safe. Armida is an alluring, conniving sorceress, the niece of the cagey King of Damascus during the crusades. The role is a tour de force for a soprano who can combine alluring long-spun lyrical singing with dazzling, sometimes demonic, coloratura flights.

Moreover, the lead soprano dominates a cast that requires six Rossini tenors, a casting nightmare for any company. The Met lined them up, headed by Lawrence Brownlee in an assured and appealing performance as Rinaldo, a paladin whom Armida ensnares through a combination of her beauty and magic.

Still, this was Ms. Fleming’s show, and she was impressive over all. She first sang the role at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy, in 1993, a performance recorded live for a Sony release. In 1996 she triumphed as Armida in a concert performance with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Eve Queler.

 [...] “Armida” belongs at the Met. And the company has the right star in place.

 - Anthony Tommasini

Boston Symphony Orchestra, February 2010

Boston Globe February 12, 2010
“[Strauss’s Four Last Songs] hit their mark and were deeply moving, with Fleming’s soprano beautifully weightless and gleaming…”
-Jeremy Eichler

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