From Verismo to Strauss by Way of Wuthering Heights: Renée Fleming in Valladolid

SpainSpain Renée Fleming in Concert: Renée Fleming, Miguel Harth-Bedoya (conductor), Symphony Orchestra Castilla y León, Auditorio Miguel Delibes de Valladolid, 18.12.2011 (JMI)

available at Amazon
R.Fleming et al.

available at Amazon
R.Strauss, Four Last Songs et al.,
C.Eschenbach / R.Fleming

With her MET performances of Rodelinda finished on December 10th, Renée Fleming has gone on a mini-tour of European concerts, with stops in London, Madrid, and Valladolid. In the first two cities she sang Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, accompanied by Christoph Eschenbach and the London Philharmonic. For Valladolid she went local and offered an original and generous bouquet of a concert, with her as the undisputed center.

That sort of thing might veer strongly toward the tacky with many another diva, but Renée Fleming, beyond being an outstanding singer, is also a wonderful artist and her concert was an example of elegance, good taste, and service to music. There were no gestures to the gallery, only intimate and always exquisite singing. Her voice is absolutely beautiful, very homogeneous throughout the tessitura, with a refined technique, guided by impeccable musicianship and exquisite taste in all her interpretative choices. Netting >55 minutes of music, the program (including encores) was generous, too – almost an hour of singing is quite an ordeal for any singer.

Mme. Fleming opened with two bits of Americana: Bernard Herrmann’s aria “I Have Dreamt” from his opera Wuthering Heights, followed by the Samuel Barber’s aria for Cleopatra “Give some music”. Both pieces warmed up her instrument but not so much the audience. In Arabella’s “Mein Elemer” she showed her absolute identification with the music by Richard Strauss. What a pity that the conductor, energetic Miguel Harth-Bedoya, was not able to control the orchestral volume in this exquisite music.

“Dank sei Dir, Herr” (Siegfried Ochs) and “Laudamus Te” (Mozart, Mass in C minor), were unrivalled; “Panis Angelicus” (Cesar Franck) most delicate. The last part of the concert was dedicated to verismo, proving that this genre also needs musicality and good taste. She was truly outstanding at “Poveri fiori” from Adriana Lecouvreur and proceeded to remind, by way of Mimi Pinson and Musette, that Ruggero Leoncavallo also wrote an opera called La Bohème. She finished with a beautiful, emotional interpretation of “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca.

Her encores were more magnificent, still: “Morgen” by Richard Strauss is so up her alley, it’s difficult to think of it being bettered. She caressed “O Mio Babbino Caro” and reached breathtaking moments in Marietta’s aria from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, ending finally with a seasonal nod: Schubert’s Ave Maria.

Jose Mª Irurzun