February 14, 1959
© Andrew Eccles_Decca
As well as her accomplishments singing central repertoire, Ms. Fleming, a great champion of new music, performed in the World Première of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles with the San Francisco Opera, in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's first performances of Floyd's Susannah and, most recently, as Blanche in the World Première of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, also with the San Francisco Opera.
In November 1998, she starred in The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by James Levine and co-starring Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel. The New York Times said of her performance on the first night: "'Porgi amor' was a flood of beautiful sound; the climactic tones of 'Dove sono' made the body tingle."
1999 began with an international recital tour; in the US the schedule included dates at Carnegie Hall and Chicago's Symphony Hall. She managed to leave audiences everywhere wanting still more, even though she regularly returned to sing half an hour of encores. The Toronto Globe and Mail described her remarkable performance there: "Fleming's lyric soprano has the one thing that every great singer needs, an unmistakable, distinctive, individual timbre. Commanding intelligence and musicianship take the gift even further, allowing her to interpret ad communicate on the highest level."
In Europe Renée Fleming collaborated with pianist Christoph Eschenbach in a Paris recital and went on to perform in Milan, Vienna and Copenhagen.
In April 1999, she returned to the MET for a production of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, conducted by James Conlon, before returning to Paris for the remainder of the spring for a production of Alcina at the Bastille, conducted by William Christie. Following the summer's stage and concert performances in Paris, Germany and the Czech Republic, Ms Fleming returned to the US to concentrate on operatic roles: in September 1999 she sang Louise in San Francisco; in November, Alcina in Chicago and in December she appeared at the MET to prepare for one of her signature roles, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She also sung the Marschallin in London's Covent Garden in March 2000.
Renée Fleming's late 1999/early 2000 release on Decca was Strauss Heroines, a disc of operatic scenes from Der Rosenkavalier, Arabella and Capriccio with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach where Ms Fleming was joined by Barbara Bonney and Susan Graham. She has also recorded the title role in Massenet's Thaïs for release in 2000.
Alongside her operatic and recital recording schedule, Renée Fleming has reserved some time to catch up with her other musical love and plans to record a jazz album. Away from the stage she has recorded two arias for the soundtrack to the Fox Searchlight film of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She has also been featured across the US as one of Anne Klein's Important Women in a prestigious major advertising campaign for the designer and was the subject of a widely watched CBS 60 minutes broadcast in April 1999. She is featured in a new millennium book by photographer Annie Leibovitz focusing on the twentieth century's most influential