Renée Fleming's soaring soprano truly captivates
Someone needs to find the secret place from where Renée Fleming found her ravishing voice. The world needs more singers like America's reigning lyric soprano.
With a creamy tone and heartfelt phrasings, Fleming joined the San Antonio Symphony on Wednesday night for a program of unusual and highly appealing French and American repertory. A sold-out audience of about 2,400 packed the Majestic Theater for the one-night-only concert, led by Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
Fleming, an opera and lieder star since the late 1980s, has taken excellent care of the voice, which was evident from the contemplative, gorgeous, three-movement Ravel "Shéhérazade," which highlights her new CD out this week, "Poémes."
Fleming gestured "like a king's daughter," admiring pretend jewelry when singing Gounod's "Jewel Song" from "Faust."
Fleming delivered the world premiere of the richly orchestrated version of Ricky Ian Gordon's moving "Night Flight to San Francisco" from "Angels in America." The song's drifting melody is in the style of Samuel Barber's songs.
Fleming then turned to lighter pop/rock selections, like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Along the way, she delighted the audience with sharp humorous comments - "This is getting dangerous, more applause for the dress," she said, alluding to a pink outfit in the second half after a dark purple gown for the first half.
For encores, Fleming offered the crowd-pleasing and famous Puccini "O mio babbino caro," Texan J. Todd Frazier's "We Hold These Truths" set to Thomas Jefferson's words and Francesco Cilea's "Io son l'umile ancella."
But the lingering, transcendental moment came from the last piece on the announced program, Korngold's "Marietta's Lied." The song expresses joy of love but turns sad with a realization of life as temporary and too short, like a Renée Fleming concert.
- David Hendricks, San Antonio Express, 2 March 2012