Renée Fleming, born on February 14, 1959, would become one of, if not the most, prominent American soprano in recent history.
The Pennsylvania native grew up in New York and kicked off her studies at SUNY Potsdam. She would receive her Master’s Degree at the Eastman School of Music and subsequently earned a Fulbright scholarship to study with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Arleen Augér. Then she continued her studies at Juilliard and started performing professionally.
In 1988, she won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and then made her debut at the Houston Grand Opera. A year later, she made her debut at the New York City Opera and won the George London Competition.
In 1990, she became a Richard Tucker Award winner and made her debut at the Seattle Opera. From there she made her Met Opera and San Francisco Opera debuts in 1991.
Fleming would go on to perform at opera houses around the planet with the top artists. She would begin recording extensively and her career would take her to superstardom. Her recognition is so great that she made history by performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl and has appeared on the soundtracks of several major motion pictures such as “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Shape of Water,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “Tin Tin,” among others.
Fleming has always been a major recording artist for Decca and has four Grammy Awards as of early 2018.
On May 13, 2017, the soprano performed her last staged production of ”Der Rosenkavalier” at the Met Opera before heading to Broadway to take on “Carousel;” she earned a Tony Award nomination.
Fleming sang a wide range of repertory, but there are a few operas and composers that she dominated at the peak of her career. Strauss and Fleming are virtually synonymous for many people with the soprano championing such works as “Arabella,” “Capriccio,” and “Der Rosenkavalier” throughout her career. She was also a major interpreter of Strauss’ “Four Last Songs.”
Another opera that she was well-known for was Dvorak’s “Rusalka,” which she recorded and sang prominently in the 1990s and 2000s. She also championed Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia” and revived Rossini’s “Armida.” Massenet’s “Thaïs” was another of her prominent roles, the soprano noting that she was “born” to take on the role.
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Watch and Listen
Here are a few albums by the soprano.
And here is a performance video of “Rusalka.”