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One of the most beloved and celebrated singers of our time, 2023 Kennedy Center Honoree Renée Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. At a White House ceremony in 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, America's highest honor for an individual artist. She brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014, as the first classical artist ever to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl. Winner of the 2023 Grammy Award (her fifth) for Best Classical Vocal Solo, she sings in the greatest opera houses, concert halls, and theaters around the world.
In May 2023 Renée was appointed by the World Health Organization as a Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health. As a musical statesman, Renée has been sought after on numerous distinguished occasions, from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2014, she sang in the televised concert at the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2012, in an historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II. In January 2009, Renée was featured in the televised We Are One: The Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama. She has also performed for the United States Supreme Court and, in 2009, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s “Velvet Revolution” at the invitation of Václav Havel. A ground-breaking distinction came in 2008 when Renée became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.
Renée’s concert calendar this season includes appearances in Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Milan, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and at Carnegie Hall. In the spring and summer of 2023, Renée is performing a joint international recital tour with the acclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin. In November, Renée starred in the world premiere staging of The Hours, a new opera by Kevin Puts based on the best-selling novel and famous film, at the Metropolitan Opera. She will return to Paris later this spring to portray Pat Nixon in Nixon in China at the Opéra de Paris. Renée is currently starring in a series of IMAX films, Renée Fleming’s Cities That Sing. Each episode highlights the music of a great cultural capital, with performances and visits to notable locations. The first two episodes, about Paris and Venice respectively, premiere this spring.
During the pandemic, her performances on digital platforms included streamed concerts for the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, Renée appeared opposite Ben Whishaw in Norma Jean Baker of Troy to open The Shed in New York City. That summer, she appeared in the London premiere of The Light in the Piazza, later bringing the acclaimed production to Los Angeles and Chicago. Renée earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 2018 Broadway production of Carousel.
In a rare double-header for a classical singer, Renée was featured on the the soundtrack of two Best Picture and Best Soundtrack nominees at the 2018 Academy awards, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and The Shape of Water, which won both prizes, as well as the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. Renée was heard as the singing voice of Roxane, played by Julianne Moore, in the recent film of Ann Patchett’s best-selling novel Bel Canto. Renée recorded Alexandre Desplat’s theme song, “Still Dream” for the soundtrack of the Dreamworks Animation feature, Rise of the Guardians. This fourteen-time Grammy nominated artist has recorded everything from Strauss’s complete Daphne to the jazz album Haunted Heart to the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
In spring 2017, Renée’s 2009 album Signatures was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry, as an “aural treasure worthy of preservation as part of America’s patrimony.” A five-time Grammy winner, with 18 nominations, Renée is a prolific recording artist of extraordinary artistic range, as demonstrated by her most recent recordings. In January, Decca released a special double album, Renée Fleming: Greatest Moments at the MET. Her previous album, winner of the 2023 Grammy Award for Best Solo Classical Vocal Album, was Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin as pianist. A collection of classical songs and specially commissioned world premieres, the album focuses on nature as both the inspiration and the victim of human activity. another album of song, Lieder: Brahms, Schumann, Mahler, was released by Decca Classics in 2019. In September 2018, Decca released Renée Fleming: Broadway, featuring great musical theater songs from the 1920’s to the present day, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. And prior to that, her recording Distant Light with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic was released in 2017 . It features Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, The Strand Settings, composed for Renée by Anders Hillborg, as well as songs by Björk in new orchestral arrangements. In 2015, she was featured with Yo-Yo Ma on the Billy Childs album, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, their track “New York Tendaberry” winning the Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. Renée’s first-ever holiday album, Christmas in New York, was released in 2014, and was the inspiration for a special on PBS. In June 2010, Decca and Mercury records released the CD Dark Hope, which features Renée covering songs by indie-rock and pop artists.
Fleming has consistent mastery over the entire range, yet each part has its own distinctive colour, like a river that gleams differently when the sun catches different parts of it.The Sydney Morning Herald
In 2016, Renée was appointed Artistic Advisor for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Seeking to champion the work being done nationally—both in the medical community and within the arts world—at the intersection of health and the arts, Renée has spearheaded the first ongoing collaboration between America’s national cultural center and its largest health research institute, the National Institutes of Health. In association with the National Endowment for the Arts, Sound Health brings together leading neuroscientists, music therapists and arts practitioners to better understand the impact of arts on the mind and body.
Inspired by the Sound Health initiative, Renée has created a presentation called Music and the Mind, exploring the power of music as it relates to health and the brain. Topics include childhood development, music therapy, and cognitive neuroscience. Since September 2017, Renée has presented Music and the Mind in more than 35 cities around the world, from Boston to Beijing, delivering the prestigious Compton Lecture at MIT, and earning Research!America’s Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion.
In 2013, Renée joined with the Kennedy Center to present American Voices, a concert and 3-day festival celebrating the best American singing in all genres. The festival was the subject of a Great Performances documentary on PBS. In January 2017, Renée led a similar cross-genre celebration of singing and community, Chicago Voices, at Lyric Opera of Chicago, with a gala concert telecast on public television. She curated the creation of a world-premiere opera based on Ann Patchett’s best-seller Bel Canto for Lyric Opera’s 2015-2016 season. A performance of the production was telecast on PBS Great Performances in 2017.
Renée was featured in the 2018 A Capitol Fourth Independence Day telecast from the lawn of the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony Orchestra on PBS. In both 2016 and 2017 she sang in the National Memorial Day Concert, also with the NSO on PBS. Renée has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman (famously singing the Top Ten List), The Martha Stewart Show, Sesame Street, Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…, The View and Prairie Home Companion (as “Renata Flambé.”)
Renée’s recent opera dvds include Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Dvořák’s Rusalka, Verdi’s Otello, Handel’s Rodelinda, and Massenet’s Thaïs, all in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series, as well as Strauss’s Arabella and Ariadne auf Naxos, Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, and Verdi’s La Traviata, filmed at London’s Royal Opera House. Ms. Fleming’s 2010 DVD Renée Fleming & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg follows Renée and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to Russia, where they explore and perform in some of St. Petersburg’s most historic locations.
Renée Fleming’s artistry has been an inspiration to many other prominent artists, such as Chuck Close and Robert Wilson, whose portraits of her were included in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2007 fundraising auction. Two portraits of Ms. Fleming were also created by Francesco Clemente, who revealed one in Salzburg in spring 2007, with the Metropolitan Opera displaying the other in 2008. Photographic portraits include works by Brigitte Lacombe and Irving Penn, among others. In 2016, the Annie Leibowitz portrait of Renée was added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Nelson Shank’s portrait of Renée in the title role of Rusalka is on display in the portrait gallery of the Metropolitan Opera.
Renée Fleming is a champion of new music and has performed works by a wide range of contemporary composers, including recent compositions by André Previn, Caroline Shaw, Kevin Puts, Anders Hillborg, Henri Dutilleux, Brad Mehldau, and Wayne Shorter. Among her numerous awards are Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit (2015); the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal (2011); Sweden’s Polar Prize (2008); the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the French government (2005); Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003); and honorary doctorates from Northwestern University, where she was the commencement speaker (2018), the University of Pennsylvania (2016), Duke University (2015), Harvard University (2015), Carnegie Mellon University (2012), the Eastman School of Music (2011) and The Juilliard School (2003), where she was also commencement speaker.
An advocate for literacy, Renée Fleming has been featured in promotional campaigns for the Association of American Publishers (Get Caught Reading), and the Magazine Publishers of America’s READ poster campaign for the American Library Association. She was honored by The New York Public Library as a “Library Lion.” Her book, The Inner Voice, was published by Viking Penguin in 2004, and released in paperback by Penguin the following year. The paperback edition is now in its sixteenth printing. An intimate account of her career and creative process, the book is also published in France by Fayard Editions, in the United Kingdom by Virgin Books, by Henschel Verlag in Germany, Shunjusha in Japan, Pro Musica Mundi in Poland, and by Fantom Press in Russia. A Chinese edition is in the works.
In addition to her work on stage and in recordings, in 2008, she launched La Voce by Renée Fleming, a fragrance designed for her, with the proceeds benefiting the Metropolitan Opera. Master Chef Daniel Boulud created the dessert “La Diva Renée” (1999) in her honor, and she inspired the “Renée Fleming Iris” (2004), which has been replicated in porcelain by Boehm.
Having been added to Mr. Blackwell’s best dressed list, her concert gowns have been designed by Vivienne Westwood, Reem Acra, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano for Dior, Christian Lacroix, Oscar de la Renta, and Angel Sanchez. In June of 2014, the Smithsonian added the gown designed by Vera Wang for Renée’s Super Bowl anthem performance to the permanent collection of the Museum of American History.
In 2010, Renée was named the first-ever Creative Consultant at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Board and a Vice President. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the Board of Sing for Hope, the Board of Trustees of Asia Society, and the Artistic Advisory Board of the Polyphony Foundation, which works to bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel by creating a common ground where young people come together around classical music. She is a creative advisor to AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio.
The Inner Voice
The Making of a singer
Renée’s articulate and candid book is a revelatory examination of a performing life, of the crucial roles played by a solid education and supportive mentors, of the importance of discipline and a well-established technique, of confronting the challenges of stress and self-doubt, of the practical necessity of having a firm understanding of how business functions, and of learning to balance personal and professional fulfillment. The book is in its 16th printing, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Poland, and, most recently, in China.Buy The Book