A double-barreled Renée Fleming update, with two articles that focus on her upcoming CD Dark Hope. The first article, from The Times Online, focuses on the diva herself and her life, loves, and fans -- one of whom is the President.
Turning 50 last year was like crossing some sort of invisible line for the American soprano Renée Fleming. The opera superstar, who is known as “the people’s diva” and sang at President Obama’s inauguration — he is a huge fan — says: “It was an amazing shift, somehow, and I didn’t expect that to happen. It’s such a relief. Now I feel very young for my age! I think it’s much better to be a young old person than to be an old young person.”
The second article, from The New York Times, goes into detail about the new CD and discusses the role of crossover projects in the classical music world. About recording the CD itself:
As she has explained in interviews, the project was not her idea. Metallica’s managers, Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, had long wanted to pair a classically trained singer with rock songwriters. After listening to some of the songs, she was intrigued enough to speak with the producer David Kahne. “David is so thoughtful and articulate that I become even more fascinated by the prospect of exploring a completely different use of my voice,” she writes in her liner notes.
They settled on 11 songs, chosen for their suitability for her voice, the meaning of the lyrics and overall qualities of mystery and elusiveness that reminded her of classical works she loves — songs like “Intervention” by Arcade Fire, “With Twilight as My Guide” by the Mars Volta, and a few older pieces, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and, in a bold move, the Jefferson Airplane ballad “Today.”
Adapting her voice to rock took hard work. She and Mr. Kahne realized that it was best for her to sing in the range of her speaking voice, which is sometimes two octaves lower. Any idea that she would discard technique and just jam was quashed by Mr. Kahne, who, Ms. Fleming writes, enforced “stringent stylistic rules,” including a softening of diction and rhythm, less overt drama and no dropping of the ends of the phrases.
Of course, every great diva has her detractors.
Ms. Fleming, for all her success, has drawn tough criticism from a segment of opera buffs who find her singing mannered and fussy. “Dark Hope” will surely rile them further.
La Cieca, we're looking at you.
Needless to say, I can't wait to hear Renée's new CD.