Some Enchanted Evening
Excerpts by G. Verdi ( I vespri siciliani), G. Puccini (La bohème, Gianni Schicchi), R. Leoncavallo (La bohème), J. Williams (Star War), M. Bellamy/D. Howard/C. Wolstenholme (Muse), L. Cohen (Hallelujah), B. Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), L. Bernstein (Candide), S. Sondheim (Passion), R. Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), R. Rodgers & O. Hammerstein II (Carousel), A. J. Lerner & F. Loewe (My Fair Lady), G. Gerschwin (Porgy & Bess)
Renée Fleming (Soprano)
San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Sebastian Lang-Lessing (Conductor)
And what an evening it was! San Diego philanthropists Conrad Prebys and Debbie Turner, sponsors of the Renée Fleming in Concert, kicked off the event with Ian Campbell’s announcement of their one million dollar pledge to launch the Bravissimo campaign ahead of San Diego Opera’s commemorative 50th anniversary in 2015. And what better way to surge forward than to have mega superstar Renée Fleming return to San Diego and grace the stage once again. Well known for her versatility and far reaching repertoire, the accomplished soprano has recently stepped outside operatic boundaries to explore other musical venues all of which have been fortuitous experiences. Renée Fleming succeeds with sincerity, humility, decorum and passion. In this concert Ms. Fleming showcased her flexibility by crafting selections from opera, cinema, indie rock and Broadway. Jumping out of her comfort zone, Renée Fleming has garnered universal appeal cutting across a wide swatch of genre fans, and those in attendance of last night’s In Concert were introduced to opera in a very positive and welcoming manner.
After San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s histrionic rendition of the “Overture” to Verdi’s I vespri siciliani, Ms. Fleming demonstrated contrasting interpretations of La bohème by singing excerpts from the Leoncavallo and Puccini scores. Her singing engaged nuanced inflections and allowed the audience to follow along with text in hand, thus enriching the overall experience. Additionally, Metallica approached Renée Fleming on a future recording, requiring her to transition into a different voice sound, and the crossover was well interpreted in the bluesy Soul Meets Body.
Under the direction of Sebastian Lang-Lessing the exceptionally vibrant and meticulous San Diego Symphony Orchestra opened the second segment with comical effervescence of Bernstein’s “Overture” from Candide. The “Carousel Waltz” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical was a big hit. Completing the gala event was dedicated to the great American Broadway Musical in which Renée Fleming exuded a relaxed sense with the notes no matter the variances of emotional heft found within each of the pieces. One of the most poignant moments was her lyrically expressive “Loving You” from Sondheim’s Passion. Ms. Fleming’s legato and extenuated final notes were phenomenal, extemporaneous, but closely monitored and nicely matched with Lang-Lessing’s incisive sharp cutoffs. Due to an overwhelming reception, Renée Fleming concluded with three encore selections from Porgy and Bess, Gianni Schicchi and the tearful “Somewhere” from West Side Story.
Whether it be performer, ambassador or a champion of new music, no matter the range, no matter the complexities, no matter the style, there’s something extraordinary about Renée Fleming.