Discussion:
Renee Fleming - Pro or Con
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O
2008-11-30 04:07:09 UTC
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How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)? When I first heard her (sight unseen) do some
Mozart, I thought she sounded great. Then I picked up a disc or arias,
where she looks great on the cover, but I hated it. Now I've heard her
again, and she doesn't sound so bad. Should I give her another chance?

-Owen
albert
2008-11-30 05:12:52 UTC
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How do people here feel about her singing.Should I give her another chance?
I can but won't point you to a blog where her name elicits disgraceful
filth. Some history: I was on the committee that awarded her the
Tucker Award (was that 1990 or so?). We all felt we had rarely heard
so beautiful and silvery a tone, so well handled over a wide range.
She was clearly the best that year, for a kind of musical elegance the
best in years. I felt that in 90's she was at her peak. She did five
of the best live Fiordaligi's that I've ever heard, every note in
place, endless phrases, remarkable breath, fabulous trills, melting
piani and pianissimi, clear words. I thought her very first go at
Manon, four performances, was the best sung I had ever heard live (I
started with De los Angeles live, I had the Feraldy and Luart and
Vallin records). Beautiful words, gorgeous tone, those endless
phrases. Not a live wire or more than dignified on stage but it was
wonderful to hear the music that way. There were also several very
good Desdemonas (the very best a few weeks after she had given birth
-- there's a DVD with -- who else in the entire world for forty years
-- Domingo not as good but still fine). Her live Armida with Queler
was an astonishing display with an incredible final scene (the packed
house went mad -- it's on Operashare). But years earlier she had done
the dress of a Sonnambula and that was really beautiful too, very
limpid, glorious trills, also a Straniera that was gorgeous. I think
she got in a very good Rusalka, and in DC had done a somewhat light
but floaty-beautiful Thais (on Operashare).

BUT with time she became rather mannered. In that first decade she
sang freely with a lot of abandon, but she became rather cautious
about letting her 'whole' voice out, crooning, swooping between notes
and abusing the 'white' tone (robbing her tone of vibrato). She had
shown a formidable chest but got careful there too. Only occasionally
after a while did her voice flash out and sometimes she used really
odd 'jazzy' mannerisms.

I do think the Thais and Rusalka commercial records are very good and
the first certainly compares very well to any commercial recording,
she has some tough competition from Czech Nationals in the second but
I don't find her inferior as a singer, though I can't assess her
pronunciation. I think her earlier aria CDs are usually very good
(Signatures is an early one with familiar scenes, I also like Night
Music with Thibaudet), and the I Want Magic CD (arias from American
Operas) though less direct and 'clean' than the impeccable Dawn Upshaw
collection (some overlap) is plusher in tone and more generous
emotionally. Some people love the Manon DVD (I find it very good but
on the brink in terms of her 'mannerisms'). Her recorded Cosi (Solti's
second) is not as wonderful as she was live. I wrote a version of
Onegin she did with Hvorostovsky on PBS, they were staggering and are
very good on the Met DVD. I like the CD of Strauss Scenes (very slow
tempi from Eschenbach alas) but there are too many amazing versions of
the Four Last Songs for hers to really be toward the upper middle of
the list, and I didn't care for the DVD of Capriccio, though I saw her
give a fine performance of it.

I have found her less persuasive lately or rather over the past eight
or so years -- a disappointing Pirata, a small scaled somehow
emotionally false Violetta (but a beautiful second act at two
performances at least).

For what it's worth...

AI
O
2008-11-30 06:31:34 UTC
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In article
Post by albert
I have found her less persuasive lately or rather over the past eight
or so years -- a disappointing Pirata, a small scaled somehow
emotionally false Violetta (but a beautiful second act at two
performances at least).
For what it's worth...
Much more than I expected, and very well put. I, too, was troubled by
her mannerisms particularly when I felt I could put identify her quite
easily by them. I heard just a little bit of her three roles she did
at the Met special (Violetta, Manon and Cappricio) that was on the
television show "Muse," but not enough to get a handle on how well she
sang, and what I heard did not overwhelm me, but it seemed to be
lacking in the mannerisms I previously heard. Which brought me to the
original question.

Anyway, thanks for the very detailed response.

-Owen
JohnGavin
2008-11-30 19:19:59 UTC
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Post by O
In article
Post by albert
I have found her less persuasive lately or rather over the past eight
or so years -- a disappointing Pirata, a small scaled somehow
emotionally false Violetta (but a beautiful second act at two
performances at least).
For what it's worth...
Much more than I expected, and very well put.  I, too, was troubled by
her mannerisms particularly when I felt I could put identify her quite
easily by them.  I heard just a little bit of her three roles she did
at the Met special (Violetta, Manon and Cappricio) that was on the
television show "Muse," but not enough to get a handle on how well she
sang, and what I heard did not overwhelm me, but it seemed to be
lacking in the mannerisms I previously heard.  Which brought me to the
original question.
Anyway, thanks for the very detailed response.
-Owen
I don't know her work that well, but I know that when I saw her sing
Ravel's Scheherezade, comparing her performance to De Los Angeles, she
came off as pretty voiced and superficial. It's as if she really
didn't understand the lyrics, which are a narration of a sort of magic
carpet ride. It was, in other words, somewhat 2-dimensional.
O
2008-11-30 20:12:12 UTC
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In article
Post by JohnGavin
Post by O
In article
Post by albert
I have found her less persuasive lately or rather over the past eight
or so years -- a disappointing Pirata, a small scaled somehow
emotionally false Violetta (but a beautiful second act at two
performances at least).
For what it's worth...
Much more than I expected, and very well put.  I, too, was troubled by
her mannerisms particularly when I felt I could put identify her quite
easily by them.  I heard just a little bit of her three roles she did
at the Met special (Violetta, Manon and Cappricio) that was on the
television show "Muse," but not enough to get a handle on how well she
sang, and what I heard did not overwhelm me, but it seemed to be
lacking in the mannerisms I previously heard.  Which brought me to the
original question.
Anyway, thanks for the very detailed response.
-Owen
I don't know her work that well, but I know that when I saw her sing
Ravel's Scheherezade, comparing her performance to De Los Angeles, she
came off as pretty voiced and superficial. It's as if she really
didn't understand the lyrics, which are a narration of a sort of magic
carpet ride. It was, in other words, somewhat 2-dimensional.
I do want her to be successful, because she's attractive and that helps
to sell a lot of classical music, but I haven't heard enough of her to
decide whether she's all that she's professed to be, or is (in her
words) promoting the "world's biggest fraud." The truth, as always,
usually lies somewhere in between.

-Owen
d***@aol.com
2008-11-30 19:53:13 UTC
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Post by O
Should I give her another chance?
You should give her another chance. I don't know what compels her to
sing with odd mannerisms one day, "straight" the next, but the
instrument is gorgeous, the musicianship solid. She still has the
potential to become a very great singer, although the odds that she
will decrease with every season. I wonder if she isn't a victim of
her own success. Or maybe this is it, the limit of her technique
(which is considerable) and expressivity.

The one and only time I heard her in person (as Desdemona at the Met),
she was marvelous. Admittedly not the most demanding soprano role.
Would love to have heard her as Fiordiligi in one of the performances
Albert describes. Then again, I'm not sure her performance would have
been of the kind that melts the heart. When I first heard her Four
Last Songs (with Eschenbach?) in a record store in the 90's, I was
impressed and thought she had the potential to become the next Della
Casa. I'd still rather listen to Della Casa's recording of the Four
Last Songs.

-david gable
Ralph
2008-11-30 21:29:49 UTC
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***@aol.com wrote:
When I first heard her Four
Post by d***@aol.com
Last Songs (with Eschenbach?) in a record store in the 90's, I was
impressed and thought she had the potential to become the next Della
Casa. I'd still rather listen to Della Casa's recording of the Four
Last Songs.
Have you heard Soile Isokoski (Ondine) do the Four Last Songs? Very
nice. It's up there with Della Casa, imo.

Ralph
a***@att.net
2008-12-02 00:23:38 UTC
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Post by O
Should I give her another chance?
I doubt that she will improve........she just does not have the
instinctive musicality to take full advange of a very beautiful
voice....

AB
a***@att.net
2008-12-01 00:50:00 UTC
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Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)?  When I first heard her (sight unseen) do some
Mozart, I thought she sounded great.  Then I picked up a disc or arias,
where she looks great on the cover, but I hated it.  Now I've heard her
again, and she doesn't sound so bad.  Should I give her another chance?
-Owen
heard her in recital about 15 years ago. went with a professional
singer. We first heard Kremer in a violin recital at Carnegie that
afternoon..... Warned my friend that Fleming was nowhere as
musical...... she agreed after the concert.
Flemding does not understand how to phrase properly.... no tension in
the singing.....a very supeficial musicality. One only has to listen
to Callas to realize the musical shallowness of Fleming. Tis a
shame..... she does have a beautful voice....
AB
Simon Roberts
2008-12-02 15:43:34 UTC
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Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)?
I'm indifferent to her looks, though I do rather wonder why she approved
(assuming she did) the cover of one of her most recent CDs, which is reminiscent
of "tasteful" porn.

When I first heard her (sight unseen) do some
Post by O
Mozart, I thought she sounded great. Then I picked up a disc or arias,
where she looks great on the cover, but I hated it.
My reactions, pro and con, aren't that extreme, though perhaps I've not heard
enough of her to judge. What usually bugs me with the performances/recordings
I've heard is what sounds like technical laziness/imprecision - sloppy attacks,
rhythms that aren't quite crisp enough, a tendency to lapse into a sort of
croon, etc.

Now I've heard her
Post by O
again, and she doesn't sound so bad. Should I give her another chance?
If you do, try something other than Strauss's Four Last Songs. Leaving aside
the tonal attractiveness and technical considerations (her earlier recording is
better in that respect), as I've complained before she seems to me to get the
mood/sense of the music completely wrong - the effect is
sultry/erotic/seductive, which I find quite repellent.

Simon
Matthew B. Tepper
2008-12-02 17:34:54 UTC
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Post by Simon Roberts
Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)?
I'm indifferent to her looks, though I do rather wonder why she approved
(assuming she did) the cover of one of her most recent CDs, which is
reminiscent of "tasteful" porn.
The marketing team was on loan from Lesley Garrett.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers
Ralph
2008-12-02 22:03:08 UTC
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Post by Matthew B. Tepper
Post by Simon Roberts
Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)?
I'm indifferent to her looks, though I do rather wonder why she approved
(assuming she did) the cover of one of her most recent CDs, which is
reminiscent of "tasteful" porn.
The marketing team was on loan from Lesley Garrett.
Thanks for the heads up here. I am not predisposed to look favorably at
any offenses to my priggish sensibility, and I will cull some of Ms.
Flemning's CD's at the earliest opportunity.

Ralph
Matthew B. Tepper
2008-12-03 03:35:52 UTC
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Post by Ralph
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
Post by Simon Roberts
Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)?
I'm indifferent to her looks, though I do rather wonder why she approved
(assuming she did) the cover of one of her most recent CDs, which is
reminiscent of "tasteful" porn.
The marketing team was on loan from Lesley Garrett.
Thanks for the heads up here. I am not predisposed to look favorably at
any offenses to my priggish sensibility, and I will cull some of Ms.
Flemning's CD's at the earliest opportunity.
I only have her "Rusalka" and "Daphne" (as recordings of either work are
scarcely thick on the ground, in modern sound or otherwise, and I like having
Mackerras conducting the former), a disc of Mozart arias including a few
oddities, a couple of Previn items, and Villa-Lobos' "Forest of the Amazon"
conducted by Alf Heller. Not much point in my culling anything, really,
though I haven't had much reason to buy some of her more recent CDs,
especially since classical CD marketing has jumped the shark.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers
Ralph
2008-12-03 21:18:36 UTC
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Matthew B. Tepper wrote:
Flemning's CD's at the earliest opportunity.
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
I only have her "Rusalka" and "Daphne" (as recordings of either work are
scarcely thick on the ground, in modern sound or otherwise, and I like having
Mackerras conducting the former), a disc of Mozart arias including a few
oddities, a couple of Previn items, and Villa-Lobos' "Forest of the Amazon"
conducted by Alf Heller. Not much point in my culling anything, really,
though I haven't had much reason to buy some of her more recent CDs,
especially since classical CD marketing has jumped the shark.
Run, don't walk, and get her recording of Massenet's Thais (Decca
289466766-2). A stunningly beautifully opera that deserves a much higher
place in the musical canon.

Ralph
Matthew B. Tepper
2008-12-04 02:10:35 UTC
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Fleming's CD's at the earliest opportunity.
Post by Matthew B. Tepper
I only have her "Rusalka" and "Daphne" (as recordings of either work
are scarcely thick on the ground, in modern sound or otherwise, and I
like having Mackerras conducting the former), a disc of Mozart arias
including a few oddities, a couple of Previn items, and Villa-Lobos'
"Forest of the Amazon" conducted by Alf Heller. Not much point in my
culling anything, really, though I haven't had much reason to buy some
of her more recent CDs, especially since classical CD marketing has
jumped the shark.
Run, don't walk, and get her recording of Massenet's Thais (Decca
289466766-2). A stunningly beautifully opera that deserves a much higher
place in the musical canon.
Thanks, I might try that one even though I'm not especially fond of
Massenet (and you may want to shoot me for this, but I was present at the
re-premiere of "Esclarmonde" in San Francisco, and it did little for me).
But sometimes a tenor will get Werther just right for me, and Beverly Sills
was a moving Manon, so you never know.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-04 17:51:28 UTC
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Post by O
How do people here feel about her singing (I probably know how you feel
about her looks)? When I first heard her (sight unseen) do some
Mozart, I thought she sounded great. Then I picked up a disc or arias,
where she looks great on the cover, but I hated it. Now I've heard her
again, and she doesn't sound so bad. Should I give her another chance?
-Owen
Doesn't she tend to wallow in whatever she sings?

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