Saturday, June 19, 2010
Renée Fleming's Dark Hope
I finally found a chance to listen to Renée Fleming's new CD, Dark Hope. My opinion is divided. Renée's voice is perfect on this disc, both bluesy and beautiful in all the right ways and far surpassing her run at jazz and soft pop on her CD Haunted Heart, which wasn't bad at all. But she has found a better and more substantial voice for pop/rock music here. The Renée Fleming fan in me is very, very happy.
However, the arrangements of the songs on Dark Hope are a little too MOR for my taste -- the rock fan in me wants more energy and aggression. My keystone song on the CD is "Intervention," originally done by The Arcade Fire on their CD, Neon Bible. This is an angry song with huge operatic themes and emotions (see the video, which is well-accompanied by clips from Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin). Ironically, in the hands of the greatest active operatic soprano, this arrangement of "Intervention" fails to reach those emotional heights.
Renée Fleming, with that perfect voice, would be better served with more aggressive arrangements of all of these songs -- her delivery of the Letter Scene in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has more emotional heft to it. So, my feelings about this CD are mixed. A missed opportunity in many ways. Renée delivered, but perhaps the fears of the producers kept the balance of the songs' imprint a bit too tame. Damn, this CD had the potential to be great.