Skip to content

My evening with Renée Fleming

September 21, 2012

– From the minute I walked in my apartment door I haven’t been able to stop crying (10, 15 minutes now?). I mean, the real real hardcore weeping kind of crying. I can’t get over the enormity of what just happened. I’m not even thinking of the music or the singing. Just that she was there. And I was there. And it happened. It really truly happened. The plain fact that I had this dream, it happened, and now I’m on the other side of it. Renée Fleming. The most famous soprano of this generation. Who is one of my most favorite people on this earth. Who has touched me repeatedly with her artistry. Who changed everything.  She was right there in front of me. How many times have I seen ALL of her videos on youtube? The many times I’ve seen her enter a concert hall? There I was sitting on the right side and the stage door was opposite me. The door opened and there she was. It was real life. There was no screen between us. No distance, no barriers.  She was gorgeous and she was right there. Her little nod to the conductor when she’s ready, her “wrap myself in my shawl thing because I’m overcome with emotion”, her hand motions – they really happened.  She made me laugh IN REAL TIME.

-To hear her Desdemona live was stunning. The audience knew it too…there was a little slice of reverent silence before the applause.

-They did Rusalka and I was a mess before she even started singing.  This song started my love affair with Renee.  I felt like I discovered sound the first time I heard it.  She was right there, so close, and she started singing and those first tones filled the hall and the sound was reverberating around me and in me and through me and I was a part of something astonishing.

-I Could Have Danced All Night was her “final” piece. She prefaced it by asking “Are there any singers in the house?” Many cheers were the response and she said, “Good, because I want you to sing the chorus when I cue you so I can (waving hands about)…play.”  Ugh.  So I sang with Renee Fleming! The whole house joined in and we actually sounded quite lovely. Afterwards she said – “If I had known how good you sounded, I would have been more nervous.”  BAH! THIS WOMAN!

-She sang three encores. THREE! My hands were red and sore from clapping so much. She sang “I Feel Pretty” which was hilarious because she told us to sing with her again, but the conductor kept bringing us in to sing these background parts (which not very many people knew what he was talking about) and she kept laughing while she was singing! and it was glorious. When she came out a second time she asked if we were tired and everyone yelled No!  Next she sang “Danny Boy” and ugh. It. was. so. good. This is a song that I’ve been pretty immune to over the years – sung it a lot in school, heard a lot of artists and choirs cover it, meh I’m over it. But when she sang it, it was different. So much freaking emotion that she pours into her voice. The soaring. The richness. Words, my friends, just
suck. I can’t describe the feelings. I would have been happy with that as a finale, but then she came out and sang “O Mio Babbino Caro”. Now. Before you get all “OMG, that one” on me, hold the bloody phone.  Previous to tonight I have felt the same way.  I tend to glaze over when it’s performed and am usually impervious to its enate charms.  I was crying before she had finished the first phrase.  And I continued to cry during the whole piece.  Tears slowly streaming down my face.  Karen said that everyone around us was also crying. The gentlemen beside her was not a quiet cryer, bless him. The phrasing, the clarity, everything…it all came together and was glorious. It was warm, deep, full, like the most brilliant sunset you’ve ever seen. Whatever you conceive heaven to be…I promise you…that’s what it was.

I don’t know how many times I squealed. Too many. I don’t know how many times I died. Too many. My face started to hurt because when I wasn’t mesmerized or crying, I was absolutely beaming. I was a grinning fool.  Her dresses! So gorgeous. The entire hall gasped when she came out in her pink gown. I think I freaked out the most when she came out for the third set with HER HAIR PULLED UP. WHAT. She never does that. I think I exclaimed something a little too loudly ’cause I’m pretty sure the woman in front of me turned around.

It was sublime, masterful, perfect and I can’t.  I just can’t.  She’s changed everything once again.  Words can express us only so far.  Do you understand, dear friends, what this evening has done to me?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susie Simmons, San Antonio Texas permalink
    January 29, 2013 11:37 pm

    Ah, Bess dear, I’ve read this entry a few times — it’s beautifully written and so very descriptive of your experience on this night. I do understand completely what the evening meant to you because I was in attendance on this same tour when it brought the wonderful Miss Fleming to San Antonio for one night only in February 2012. I had the misfortune to have a middle ear infection, felt lousy and one ear was blocked, but there was no chance of missing the concert for minor details such as that. Renee was beautiful and down-to-earth, in exquisitely full voice, so warm and uniquely AMERICAN, I thought…not from Germany or New Zealand or South America…shes OURS! I felt so proud of her. She too asked the audience to accompany her in singing the chorus. On this night the choice was HALLELUJAH and in her voice it was achingly lovely. I thought the audience sounded beautiful too, and I also thought, beaming, “I have sung with Renee Fleming”. We are kindred spirits, Bess, and I appreciate your postings!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: