Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrated American lyric soprano Renee Fleming to sing in Jerusalem

Renée Fleming was born in 1959 in Indiana, Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester, New York. Her parents were both voice teachers and she had the privilege of receiving a very fine music education. She, herself, had also intended joining the teaching profession and took a degree in education at the State University of New York, Potsdam. While still an undergraduate student, Fleming sang at bars with her jazz trio. Hearing her performance and impressed by her singing, the legendary jazz saxophonist Jacquet Illinois invited her go on tour with his big band, but, encouraged to pursue a singing career, Fleming refused and proceeded on to graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music and the Julliard School of Music, joining the Julliard School’s American Opera Center from 1983 to 1987 as a student of Beverly Johnson. Winning a Fulbright Scholarship in 1984, Fleming left Julliard temporarily to study under Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Arleen Augér in Frankfurt, Germany, before returning to New York in 1985 to complete her studies.

Fleming’s debut as Konstanze in Mozart’s “Abduction from Seraglio” at the Landstheater in Salzburg in 1986 was an important landmark in the singer’s profession journey. Fleming became acutely aware that there was still much work to be done on her vocal technique and on the problem of stage fright. She took on any jobs offered her by opera companies, many of them last minute offers, and she became accustomed to learning roles on ‘plane trips. In 1988, Fleming won the Metropolitan National Opera Auditions, resulting in invitations to sing at the Houston Grand Opera, Covent Garden and the New York City Opera; she also won the George London Prize (in the same week!) Fleming’s big break came in 1991 when she stood in for the ailing British soprano Felicity Lott to sing the role of the Countess in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”, receiving rave reviews for her fresh, individual approach to the work in what was to become the first of her signature roles.

Fleming’s career then soared to great heights: she performs in opera houses all over the world, her performing schedule also including solo recitals. She is also involved in the performing of contemporary music, premiering many newly-penned operas. Her other big love – jazz – has resulted in plans to record a jazz album. In fact, the eclectic singer has always hankered after music that is more “unbuttoned”. Take, for example, the rock songs by Muse and Arcade Fire Fleming has recorded on “Dark Hope” (2010), in which her two teenage daughters appear as back-up singers! Fleming is, therefore, both heady and earthy. Her CD “Homage: The Age of the Diva” (2006) was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Her DVD “Sacred Songs” (2006) was recorded live in Mainz Cathedral and she starred in “In Search of Mozart”, a documentary film on Mozart’s life, marking the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Renée Fleming supports “Get Caught Reading”, an American national literacy campaign to promote the joys of reading. In her own book “The Inner Voice – The Making of a Singer” (2004) Fleming addresses those contemplating a career in the arts, sharing her life experiences as an artist, discussing practical issues, her doubts, her mentors, the “heart-throat-mind” connection, and more.

Renée Fleming is one of today’s most sought-after lyric soprano singers, whether on the opera stage, in concert or Lied recitals, on television, radio or on disc. In addition to her work on stage, she has represented Rolex timepieces in print advertising since 2001; a fragrance “La Voce by Renée Fleming” was designed for her and she inspired the “Renée Fleming Iris” which has been replicated in porcelain by Boehm. Fleming has performed in auspicious ceremonies – the 2006 Nobel Prize ceremony, the Beijing Olympics and the Obama inauguration. But, above all, the fetchingly glamorous Fleming is a stage artist, capturing audiences with her lush vocal timbre, her innate musicality, her unique stylistic versatility, her artistry and her radiant stage presence.

Joined by Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, one of today's tenors most sought after in opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic, Renée Fleming will be appearing at the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma) July 28th 2011 in a concert with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta. This event will wind up the Jerusalem Season of Culture. Fleming will be performing both her personal repertoire and songs written about Jerusalem. The concert also celebrates 50years since Mehta’s first Israel visit and will be a tribute to Richard Tucker, the great American tenor and cantor, a gesture by Fleming in support of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Ms. Fleming, to be accompanied by her two daughters on what will also be a private visit, is very excited about her first visit in Israel.

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