Italian daily La Repubblica describes Renée as, "affascinante, elegante, bella come una Reese Witherspoon appena piu' accarezzata dal tempo" ("Enchanting, elegant, and beautiful like Reese Witherspoon if she were gently caressed by time").
American soprano Renée Fleming was given the full page treatment in Rome-based daily, La Repubblica, where she spoke at length about her newest CD, Dark Hope. After Pavarotti & Friends paved the way for opera crossover, Renée accepted a new mission that's taken opera to a new level. She's Renée -- that's what she does. Dark Hope, her first CD to follow the Grammy-winning Verismo (arias from Leoncavallo, Giordano, etc.) is her interpretation of pop tracks from Leonard Cohen, Jefferson Airplane, Peter Gabriel, Muse, and others.
Read what she had to say after the jump!
About Dark Hope: She accepted the idea of singing a pop disc after figuring out a way to do it that wouldn't make her compromise the art of bel canto. Fleming said she was enthusiastically up to the challenge: "There was certain uneasiness, but I wanted to do something totally new". She continues, "I wasn't familiar with any of these songs. Instead my two daughters who are 14 and 17 years old had the songs on their iPods! The thing that impressed me the most when I first heard the songs was the high quality of songwriting, the fascinating lyrics, and the deepness of it all. For me it's been the discovery of a new world." [...] "Before recording, I listened and re-listened to the songs and I realized that this could be a relationship between diverse musical genres. I didn't know exactly where it would all go, but the possibilities were endless..."
About the predictable backlash to recording an opera crossover CD: "I accepted this challenge because there existed a possibility to unite opera and pop. For example, let's use the track from Mars Volta: it's a great melody that took me back to the writings of Puccini and Carmen, in the same way that Berg's Wozzeck used jazz elements which i find really famliare ."
Jazz was Renee's first love but she's thankful that she choose to study opera instead. When asked about pop vs. opera, especially as someone who studied opera for decades before hitting it big, was she jealous of others in the music industry who were overnight sensations without knowing how to sing, dance?: "There are other perks to being opera singers. We have an artistic longevity that isn't guaranteed in the pop world. Our careers can survive even after we die. Moreover we can enjoy a relative tranquility when we're out of the spotlight. I'm grateful for the choices that I made in my life. To sing music that was written 400 years ago in diverse languages is more valuable to me than all the flattery of the pop world."
Her inspiration? She credits Joni Mitchell's Mingus as being the first time she realized that music could transcend categorization.
Her proudest moments? "You know what gives me the greatest satisfaction, aside from winning three Grammy awards? The time I received a letter from Magda Olivero praising for my Verismo CD. The other time was when I sung at Obama's inaugurations at the White House. But I'm also proud of Dark Hope. Because after singing all the greatest pieces from opera in Italian, German, French, and Russian, I'm singing the little works. And finally in my own language!"
LADY MAGDA HAS SPOKEN! BOW DOWN, BYOTCHES!