Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meeting Renée Fleming

As I’m writing this I’m also working on my next year’s repertoire. Doing something I thoroughly enjoy, writing the lyrics down, translating them, getting the pronunciation right and looking for the meaning of every single word. It’s fun, and it’s of paramount importance for the work, many people just get the musical part done and stumble through the lyrics as if they were not as important and most of the time not even knowing what they are saying. I don’t like that.
Well anyways, I wanna talk about one of the happiest days in my musical life. The day I went to Renée Fleming’s concert in Sala São Paulo. It wasn’t just because it was Renée Fleming and she’s AWESOME, and she did four encores. It was because for the first time in months I felt like I was in a place where people understood me. ‘Cause most of the time, even in college (and must I highlight that my major is music, and I’m talking about musicians and even aspiring opera singers) people don’t want to talk about opera and everything that entwines it. Sometimes it’s easier for me to talk about these things with non musician friends than with them. I have a handful of friends (here in Brasil) who talk about opera and know what they are talking about, that is very sad. But on Renée’s concert I got to meet so many people like me, that live and breathe opera. It was really awesome!
Let me put out the repertoire she sang that night, and must I say, divinely so.
Claude DebussyAriettes Oubliées
Green / Il pleure dans mon cour / Chevaux de bois

Joseph Canteloube Chants D’Auvergne
Baïlèro / Malurous qu’o uno fenno / La delaïssando

Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Walzer aus wier – Frag mich oft  / Die Tote Stadt – Mariettas Lied

Richard StraussLieder
Ständchen (Opus 17, nº 2) / Morgen! (Opus 27, nº 4) / Zueignung (Opus 10, nº 1)

Giuseppe Verdi – Otello
Mi madre aveva uma povera ancella... Piangea cantando... Ave Maria
Ruggero Leoncavallo – La Bohème
Musette svaria sulla bocca viva / Mimì Pinson, la biondinetta

Francesco CileaAndriana Lecouvreur
Io son l’umile ancella

Oh Mio Babbino Caro
O Silver Moon
Something in French

So let’s start from the beginning, I get there about three hours earlier because my college is real near there, but it’s also SUPER dangerous to walk around there at night. I spend most of my time playing Sudoku. Well I met my faithful two friends who share my enthusiasm for opera (they are also singers in the making) and the place started bursting with opera lovers. I don’t know if this is normal, but many people went up to us started talking about Renée, opera, and singing and it was like a dream come true. All those people felt what I felt!  

First pic that I took. My actual distance of her

I’m going to tell you something very naughty that me and my two girlfriends did. ‘Cause here in Brasil, apart from the fact that these events hardly ever happen, the organization is kind enough to set aside the front role tickets to VIP people, who never show up. That’s great for us! My friend Jaqueline who is very experienced in this field (the field of sitting on seats that aren’t hers I mean) guided us through it, and before we knew it the concert began and we were sitting in the front role!

When Renée walked in my eyes started watering, I couldn’t believe what I saw, she was like an Opera Goddess! She looked gorgeous as usual, very classy! So I’m not gonna pretend I know much about Chamber Music, ‘cause I don’t, and she sang a great deal of chamber music. But the Debussy I did know ‘cause I almost did this cycle, but I’m not even gonna talk about the singing because it was superb! I was so dazed by it that I only noticed there were subtitles in the third song! Her interpretations were very just right you know, I wish I knew the repertoire so I could expand on the subject, but I don’t :(

I think the most pathetic part about the whole thing was the expression on my face, I looked dazzled and hipnotized. And for most of the time I couldn't get a smile out of my face. And since we were so close, she'd sometimes look at us and smile, and I'd DIE! I died about 15 times watching this concert. But the worst part is when she would look at us, and we would be taking pictures, I only took 3! But I'm so lucky that she looked right at me while I was doing that!

But when she started singing Otello, I grabbed Jaqueline’s hand so tight, I was going like “Oh God, she just sang this at the Met! She’s out of this world!”.  I cried my eyes out! And something very ridiculous happened; there was a very annoying couple who were clearly not enjoying the concert sitting right next to us. And the woman was giving us the eye for holding hands, probably thinking that we were a couple also. We’re not, but even if we were, what’s the big deal? I hated that woman, and kept sighing quite loudly during the songs, and I wanted to strangle her.

Then I learned how to use the zoom in my camera
 When she finished the program the concert hall was filled up by thousands of “BRAVA” “LINDA” “I LOVE YOU!” and she did her first encore "Oh Mio Babbino Caro". And I mean, who doesn’t love that song? Time for me to cry again! Now for her second encore she told us that the night before the audience had asked her to sing this one, “O Silver Moon” from Rusalka. The moment she said the name of the song the place almost crumbled down with cheers from the audience, including moi obviously. And it was a very happy moment for me because I once listened to a recording of Joyce DiDonato singing at the Salzburg Festival and when she said the name of the aria she was singing the crowd went insane (it was Serse’s “Ombra mai Fu”), and at the time I just thought to myself “I wish Brasil had such an enthusiastic audience!”. And after that day I came to realize that it did!

I think it was on the third encore Renée said something like “Aren’t you tired of listening to me sing?” which was responded with loads of cheers and “I LOVE YOU”s. You’ll have to pardon me because I don’t remember the name of the chanson she sang as the third encore, but she did say it was new to her repertoire. The fourth and unfortunately last was Azulão, a song in Portuguese, which she nailed obviously.

This dress was to DIE FOR!
After the concert me and my girlfriends rushed to the autograph cue to wait for her, and let me tell you, the cue WAS HUGE! Again we got to meet rather nice strangers with passion for opera (most of them opera singers or opera students), and you kinda realize you’re not alone. And also that it is of paramount importance to go to these concerts, I think at least, that everyone who is studying to become an opera singer should have gone there that day. And don’t get me started on the price thing, ‘cause 10 minutes before the show they were selling tickets for R$10,00 for students. That's like $5,00!

Then the moment finally arrived, meeting Renée! Since there were a hundred thousand people there, she wasn’t taking pictures. If she did stop to take pictures with everyone she would have left there the next day. I got to talk to her if only for a bit, I told her how marvelous she was and that I was sitting in the front row drooling. She laughed and said “Oh you were in the front role? I hope I didn’t drool on you!”, I wanted to answer something like “Oh you didn’t, but if you had it would have been fine, I would have bottled it or something.” But I just laughed and said something like “But you didn’t…” and then got pushed by the next one in line.

But the thing is, she was also only signing one item per person. She signed my cd “The Art of Renée Fleming”, but my friend Jaqueline had almost all her cds, and her book, she wanted them signed. What did she make me do? So we got in line AGAIN, so Renée would sign two more items of her endless collection, when we got to her again she said “Oh, you again!” and while my friends said a timid “Yes” and went up and said “Let me tell you Renée, she’s not leaving until you sign all her cds!”. She laughed; I’m so funny, I made Renée Fleming laugh! HA!

So it was a terrific day! And many are to come, I have no doubt about it!


  1. Renee Fleming sounds like such a nice person, in addition to the great singing! I have only ever heard her live once, and I didn't get a chance to meet her like you did :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks a lot! Pitty I didn't have the chance of taking a picture with her :(