Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm American. I'm eclectic: Renée Fleming

In an interview between Renée Fleming and Paula Zahn that originally aired on Sunday Arts on April 22, 2010, Fleming described herself as a "voracious musician" centered by her interest in learning.

After a brief discussion of Fleming's performance on opening night of the Met 2008-2009 season, Zahn opened a new thread by quoting from an article written by Matthew Gurewitsch in the New York Times on October 22, 2009. Fleming said:

"I was constantly being pushed toward a European ideal of what it means to be a classical or opera singer, let’s say in the Renata Tebaldi mode. I reject that. I’m American. I’m eclectic. I’m going to follow my musical passions."

Fleming deflected with oft-repeated stories, but she reengaged in her discussion of the opera Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss. She demonstrated her "voracious" interest in learning new roles, guided by planing and strategy, and tempered by the "eclectic."

She performed the Marschallin in several productions "and I said: I'm going to put this away now, I can sing this role later, and focus on much higher repertoire. I focused on Manon, Traviata, Thaïs, that I knew I wouldn't be able to sing later." But she lights up when she thinks of the Marschallin, "It was so wonderful to come back to it!"

There is a lovely articulation of the passage of time in Rosenkavalier: "There is something strange about time," sings the Marschallin in soliloquy, "day follows day and time is like nothing, but one day it happens, and all you feel is time."

Time led Fleming back to the Marschallin. She had absorbed this opera to such an extent that her increased sense of being "authoritative in the part" was more deeply harmonious and sympathetic than she realized.

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