Renee Fleming stages antidote to American Idol

Renee Fleming stages antidote to American Idol


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2013

This weekend at the Kennedy Center, Fleming has put together a celebration of genuine American vocal achievements. It’s called American Voices and it celebrates the diversity of American signing styles — spanning pop, country, musical theater, classical music, gospel and jazz.

She’s been chatting about it to fans on Reddit. Some gleanings:



– I think performers now are getting away from the straight jacketed limitations of genre, and wanting to stretch more – sometimes it works, and sometimes not – however, there’s no substitute for focusing fully on the thing you want to be best at first – there just aren’t enough hours in the day…


– I have a spreadsheet of about 120 (US) composers, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg – there are so many worthy and cultivated composers out there – wish there was as much interest from the public in hearing new things – I’m currently excited about Jimmy Lopez and Bel Canto – we are producing his first opera in Chicago, and it’s exciting indeed!

– Taste can be developed at any time – I discovered that I loved contemporary music when I was a student; obsessed with Stravinsky and George Crumb. Same with artistry and interpretation, however, your job as a student is to understand and absorb as much information from your experienced professors, coaches and teachers as you can – no sense in disagreeing with them, although offering your own opinion can give an opportunity for discussion. They’re trying to help – and there’s plenty of time for you ultimately to absorb what you’re learning and send it back out through the prism of your own thoughts, opinions and experience….. hope that’s helpful?


  • Lauren says:

    I love Renee Fleming. How I wish there were more classic arts featured in the media and society in general.

    • Janey says:

      Yes, one wonders what will happen after Ms. Fleming finally retires. American mezzos are making some kind of a small mark. Sopranos, however, are no where to be found in the list of most important singers of the world.

  • Impressive that she was a fan of Crumb during her student years. Has she performed or recorded any of his music? I’d love to hear her sing Crumb.

    • She performed a cycle of his works on a recital tour of France a few years ago. She explained the work in impeccable French to the audience, pointing out also certain difficulties the pianist had to contend with. Her performance, on all fronts, was remarkable.