Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rene Fleming, the complete lyric soprano

RARELY DOES a visiting performer expand the cultural awareness of an audience that is already conditioned for excellence.  For the nearly 2,000 patrons of Rene Fleming's memorable recital in E. J. Thomas Hall Tuesday evening there is little doubt that it went well  beyond the highest expectations.

From the moment that she burst onto the stage in a stunning maroon gown and matching floor-length  wrap the audience was happily at her command, hailing her entrance  with bravos, applause and excited anticipation.  It got better as the program went on with stadium-like cheers.  

Fleming's appearance, along with her exceptional piano accompanist, Hartmut Holl,  was something of a coup for Tuesday Musical and its executive director, Barbara Feld. And, therefore, an artistic coup for the Akron area.  Here, after all, was one of the world's leading lyric sopranos who,  whether in recital or at the Met,  appears to have assembled the best in her own career from the great singers of today and the divas who have come before.

Exquisitely beautiful with that clear, certain voice to match,  she approached each piece in the recital as though she had separated her listeners as individuals and sang directly to each. But she also has a girlish humor that unassumingly charmed, whether on stage or later at a reception in which she patiently  accommodated all who stood in line to greet her.  Superb voice, beauty,  humor, an always personable approach to the moment.  For all of her acclaim, she wants you to realize that she's also the girl who grew up in Rochester, N.Y  

Thank you , Rene Fleming.  And thank you Barbara Feld and Tuesday Musical's financial  sponsors.  You've set the bar quite high for classical music in this town.  

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