Renée Fleming’s luminous sound, brilliant stage presence and superb artistry are just a few of the qualities that make her one of the world’s most beloved and recognisable musical figures. Her freshness and purity of tone, together with an exceptional musical intelligence and grace, continue to enchant audiences worldwide. As a passionate champion of creativity in the arts, she continues to be a proponent of new music and an advocate of overlooked masterpieces.
Ms Fleming’s 2007-08 season brought her to the opera houses of New York, Chicago and Vienna. She appeared in two of her signature roles with the Metropolitan Opera: Violetta in La traviata, in November 2007, and Desdemona in Otello, in February 2008. She repeated La traviata for the Lyric Opera of Chicago in January 2008, and in June, she appeared at the Vienna State Opera in a new production of Strauss’s Capriccio. Renée Fleming stars in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008–09 Opening Night Gala in September 2008, in fully staged performances of scenes from three different operas: Verdi’s La traviata (Act II), Massenet’s Manon (Act III), and the final scene from Richard Strauss’s Capriccio — before returning to Vienna for further performances of Capriccio. In November 2008 Ms Fleming sings the title role in Lucrezia Borgia for Washington National Opera, conducted by Plácido Domingo, and in December 2008 she appears in Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera.
A much-loved and warmly welcomed artist throughout the world, Ms Fleming performed at the 2007–08 season opening night galas of the National Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and the Dallas Opera presented her in solo concert to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Other highlights included the world premiere of the song cycle Le Temps L’Horloge, written for her by Henri Dutilleux, which she debuted in September with Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. Later in the season, she performed it with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston’s Symphony Hall and in New York’s Carnegie Hall. In Spring 2008, Renée Fleming performed Strauss’s Four Last Songs plus a program of R. Strauss songs and arias with the Munich Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann, recorded for this Decca album.
In November 2007, Decca released the Los Angeles Opera’s production of La traviata on DVD, featuring Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón and Renato Bruson. Her performances in Eugene Onegin (Metropolitan Opera, New York) and Arabella (Zurich Opera) were captured on film and released on Decca DVD in 2007/2008. A two-time Grammy winner, Ms Fleming’s CD Homage — The Age of the Diva, was released in the fall of 2006 and is comprised of rarely-heard works associated with legendary singers of the past. In recent years, this nine-time Grammy nominated artist has recorded everything from Strauss’s complete Daphne to the jazz recording Haunted Heart, to the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and has been honoured with a 2006 Echo Award for her recording of Strauss’s Daphne, as well as the Classical Brit Awards in 2004 for Outstanding Contribution to Music and in 2003 for Female Artist of the Year.
In May 2007, the DVD production of Capriccio, with Ms Fleming singing the title role, was awarded the Prix Maria Callas Orphée d’Or by the Académie du Disque Lyric, which awarded her the inaugural Prix Solti Orphée d’Or in 1996.
Renée Fleming’s artistry has been an inspiration to many other prominent artists, such as Chuck Close and Robert Wilson, whose portraits of her were included in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2007 fund-raising auction. A portrait of Ms Fleming was also created by Francesco Clemente, who displayed the work at Salzburg’s Easter Festival in Spring 2007. Among her numerous awards are the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government (2005), which was preceded by the Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2002); Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003); and a 2003 honorary doctorate from The Juilliard School, where she was also commencement speaker.
An advocate for literacy, Renée Fleming has been featured in promotional campaigns for the Association of American Publishers (Get Caught Reading), and the Magazine Publishers of America’s READ poster campaign for the American Library Association. She was honored by The New York Public Library as a “Library Lion”. Her book, The Inner Voice, was published by Viking Penguin in 2004, and released in paperback by Penguin the following year. An intimate account of her career and creative process, the book is also published in France by Éditions Fayard, in the United Kingdom by Virgin Books, by Henschel Verlag in Germany, and Shunjusha in Japan.
In addition to her work on stage and in recordings, Renée Fleming has represented Rolex timepieces in print advertising since 2001. Master Chef Daniel Boulud has created the dessert “La Diva Renée” (1999) in her honor, and she has inspired the “Renée Fleming Iris” (2004), which is being replicated in porcelain by Boehm. Having been added to Mr Blackwell’s best dressed list in 2001, her gowns have been designed by Gianfranco Ferré, Issey Miyake, Bill Blass, Vivienne Westwood, Angel Sanchez, Oscar de la Renta and John Galliano for Dior.
Renée Fleming, who was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester, New York, studied at The Juilliard School, holds degrees from the State University of New York at Potsdam and the Eastman School of Music, and was a Fulbright Scholar for study in Germany. Early awards included the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, the Richard Tucker Award, and the George London Prize. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation and of the Advisory Board of the White Nights Foundation of America.