The Rake's Progress: No Word From Tom ... I Go, I Go To Him
VANESSA: He Has Come, He Has Come
A Streetcar Named Desire: I Want Magic!
Soprano sensation Renee Fleming performs American arias by Bernard Herrmann, Douglas Moore, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Andre Previn and Igor Stravinsky. — Genre: Classical Music — Media Format: Compac... more »t Disk
Soprano sensation Renee Fleming performs American arias by Bernard Herrmann, Douglas Moore, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Andre Previn and Igor Stravinsky.
Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 15-SEP-1998
bert1761 | Washington, DC United States | 06/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Renee Fleming is simply astonishing. There is apparently little she can't sing. So much on this disc is so good it's hard to pick out highlights. Nevertheless... The aria from Wuthering Heights that opens the disc is one I'd never heard before, and it is truly gorgeous music that suits Ms. Fleming's gorgeous voice perfectly. I was astonished by her performance of "My Man's Gone Now." Generally, I think of Ms. Fleming as suited primarily to "lighter" voiced roles, but her performance of this aria showed beautiful darker colors. An earlier reviewer hit the nail right on the head: while I had always found the sound of Ms. Fleming's voice to be quite similar to Kiri Te Kanawa's (albeit deployed with FAR greater musicianship and intelligence), I found her sounding very much like Leontyne Price on this track. I thoroughly enjoyed her performances of the arias from The Rake's Progress and Vanessa (oh how the latter opera calls for an up-to-date recording -- and it should feature Ms. Fleming in the title role). The "title track" is a tasty little teaser that should make anyone want to hear -- or, better yet, see on DVD -- her performance as Blanche du Bois in Andre Previn's operatic Streetcar. Being a tremendous fan of the play and of the movie, I was dubious about this opera, but Ms. Fleming gave an even more moving portrayal of Blanche than did Vivien Leigh.But what keeps causing me to hit the repeat button on my CD player are the arias from Susannah -- particularly "Ain't It a Pretty Night." The sheer sound of her voice in this aria is amazing. But her interpretation is astounding. She captures Susannah's sweetness and innocence, but also colors her voice in such a way that indicates that she senses the hoorible fate that is to befall her and make her truly a tragic heroine.I must note that Ms. Fleming does miss the mark somewhat on Glitter and Be Gay, but it's a relatively minor misstep relative to the joys of the rest of the CD"
Earl Hazell | New York | 01/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This may sound like a backhanded compliment (because it is), but there are times where it sounds as if Rene is doing Rene instead of singing the aria, and it still sounds like art instead of high brow cheese! This woman's voice is phenomenally pretty and expressive, and choosing to make a disc of American arias is not only smart in terms of marketing her voice to unfamiliar audiences outside of the opera world, but important to American opera as a whole. In the future, I would like to hear more trust of her gift in her singing. Again, there are times, like in the Gershwin PORGY AND BESS arias and the Menotti ("Monica's Waltz"), that it sounds as if she feels the need to make it more dramatic and poigniant than what was actually written, or what would be expected of one of her talent level. Which, considering the genius of both on every turn, leaves a bit of melancholy in your heart upon intuiting it with every turn of phrase that doesn't border on but nonetheless flirts with the schmaltzy (akin to the lament that would come from watching a beautiful, wide-eyed innocent young girl dancer audition for a sleezy, casting couch Vegas manager). But that voice, and the music, make up for it, in an almost paradoxical way.Worth owning."
Aguably my favorite collection by this singer
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 04/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Renee Fleming's legacy is growing fast. Already we have at least a dozen fine recordings, including her superb Richard Strauss songs, a collection of more well-known opera arias, and her surprisingly moving work in "A Streetcar Named Desire."This disc may be my favorite, however, mostly because it includes so many marvelous pieces that are not very well known. The opener, from Bernard Herrmann's "Wuthering Heights," is stunning. Why is this not recorded more often? (Granted, Ms. Fleming has now set the performance bar pretty high.) The two arias from Carlisle Floyd's "Susannah" are better known, but receive extra-special treatment here. James Levine and the Met Orchestra are up to their usual high standard and could not be more sympathetic collaborators, and the sound overall is glorious.There is not a misstep anywhere in this collection - an outstanding example of a great singer presenting a highly unusual program."
Truly the Beautiful Voice
Bruce Hodges | 09/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a young soprano, Renee Fleming is one of my favorite artists for both pleasure listening and study. This collection is an incredibly strong and interesting look at American Opera, which tends to be overlooked in classical study. Ms. Fleming does an extremely capable job with the lyrics, (never an easy job in English!) and also shows tremendous power as an actress. Personally I find her "Glitter and be Gay" one of the most enjoyable tracks, though it admittedly suffers from being miked and a little over-amplified (stage laughter does not record well in any situation). But Fleming conveys a great deal of energy, and the comic melodrama which makes Cunegonde tempting as a role. By far the best tracks are from Floyd's "Susannah", especially the folksy "Trees on the Mountain". It more than explains why Fleming is the definitive Susannah today. The weakest track is "The Letter Aria", Baby Doe as a role does not seem to "fit" the voice particularly well, and Fleming's attack is a bit off. Otherwise, however, all the tracks are remarkable technically and artistically. "I Go to Him" is an unexpected highlight, and "Monica's Waltz" is simply inspiring."
Bruce Varner | Chicago area, USA | 12/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this CD. It's so incredibly American. It features American lyric soprano Renee Fleming singing American opera arias. Ms. Fleming is capably accompanied by the Met orchestra, America's best opera orchestra, conducted by another distinguished American, Maestro James Levine. The only way this CD could be more American is if it were released on July 4th, with two baseball tickets included. I'm grateful that Decca made this release.
This CD starts out very strong with a gorgeous aria "I have dreamt" from "Wuthering Heights". I've never seen this opera nor heard of this opera. If the opera is half as good as the aria, I would love to see it. Renee cruises through "The Letter Song" from "The Ballad of Baby Doe" with heartfelt interpretation. "Monica's Waltz" is not one of my favorite arias in the world, but Ms. Fleming sings it beautifully.
Here's where we depart, and the reason I gave this CD only 4 stars. First, Renee sings two arias from "Porgy and Bess": "Summertime" and "My Man's Gone Now". Renee's voice is way too rich and lush for these arias. Listen to Renee sing it, then listen to the gold standard, Leontyne Price. You'll see what I mean. Renee's rendition of "My Man's Gone Now" was just way too pretty. The score calls for some extended glissandos, which are supposed to be wails of grief. Renee sang the glissandos beautifully, but no grief was in sight. Her next choice "Glitter and Be Gay" from "Candide" is just not a good choice for her. I think even Renee would tell you that a voice like hers is just not right for Cunegonde. This aria (and role) calls for a smaller voice. [...].
Then Renee reminds me of why I love her in the first place, by returning to two arias from "Susannah", a signature role for her. Her performances of "Ain't it a pretty night!" and "The trees on the mountains" are too good for words. She completely understands this role, and communicates the mood in these arias right through your speakers. Just imagine how good it must be live!
Renee closes with "No word from Tom" (The Rake's Progress), "He has come, he has come!" (Vanessa), and "I want magic! (A Streetcar Named Desire). I wish more opera companies would produce "The Rake's Progress". This is a wonderful opera by an "adopted" American composer, Igor Stravinsky. The aria from "Streetcar" is kind of an odd choice to close this CD, but Renee did premiere the role of Blanche in this Previn piece with the SF Opera. So maybe it's not so strange after all.
Highly recommended for fans of Renee Fleming, and those who need to add some good old American opera to round out their Puccini collections. This is a nice performance record by a woman surely destined to be one of the greatest lyric sopranos in history."