Renee, in play

Renee, in play


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2014

Ms Fleming is attempting straight theatre, as an opera star who is coming to terms with advancing age.

In Williamstown, Massachusetts. At the aptly named WTF.




  • Christy says:

    It’s a bit amazing that a US opera star gets coverage in a newspaper on another coast from where she’s performing in a play that isn’t be produced anywhere near there.

    Is there a review from a paper in the neighborhood?

  • Mikey says:

    Mr.Lebrecht: I would like to know your stance on comments that may be critical of your tone or style of writing.

    Do you always delete comments that put into question your choice of words or phrasing? Do you feel that you are completely beyond reproach and immune from any fair criticism?

    I bring back the recently deleted comment questioning your use of “aptly named WTF” in your brief post above. Was that a snarky back-handed attack at Ms. Fleming?

    • Christy says:

      I searched and found two local reviews:


      If you’re looking for the quintessential in ideal summer theater entertainment, “Living on Love” is it. The new play (adapted from an older play) is being offered as a world-premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival. It’s a delightful fun-filled comedy that is a light-hearted joy.

      Not only does it have a broad comic framework but it has star power. Opera great Renee Fleming is performing in her first “straight” stage play. She, too, is a delight as she plays an egotistical opera diva who is nearing the end of her career.

      The play, written by Joe Dipietro, is based on “Peccadillo” a play that Garson Kanin wrote in the 1950s. There is little original about “Living on Love.” It is entirely predictable and without deep revelations or insight. It’s an “old-fashioned” comedy in which the pleasure comes from anticipating what will happen and enjoying the moment when it does happen. Old-fashioned, in this case, means very funny.



      A thin but breezily funny farce done with great brio and panache, “Living on Love” marks the debut of internationally acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming in a non-operatic acting role.

      Playing, naturally, an internationally acclaimed soprano so grand that she and others refer to her as “La Diva,” Fleming commands the theater with an expected amount of regal presence, especially on the few occasions when she sings. In the funniest and most captivating of these moments, that legendary voice tosses off the opening lines of the Puccini aria “O mio babbino caro,” but it’s sung to her little dog, named Puccini. In another, after the character enters with a few vocal trills, she says, “Did I hear the birds singing?,” adding, with feigned surprise and delight, “Oh, that was me.”

      • Mikey says:

        From reading those two excerpts I still am perplexed by Mr Labrecht’s “WTF” reference.

        The festival has a tongue-in-cheek acronym. The play is a light comedy. The singer is getting good reviews.

        And quite honestly, there’s nothing particularly “WTF” about a singer playing a singer in a theatrical production.

        Why didn’t the article about the UK premiere of an “opera” by the “Pet Shop Boys” get a “WTF” comment? I find that one considerably more “WTF-inducing”.

        I’d simply like an explanation of how the festival is “aptly” named in regard to this entire article.