11 Surprising Things about Renée Fleming
April 24, 2023
The Gilmore welcomes superstar soprano Renée Fleming alongside piano master Evgeny Kissin on Saturday, May 27, 2023 at 8 PM at Chenery Auditorium. One of the most recognized musicians worldwide, there are likely a few things you may not know about her. Here are just a few.
- While she has retired from many of her signature roles and extended opera engagements, Renée Fleming still pursues new ventures, performing last fall in Metropolitan Opera’s The Hours, and this spring she portrayed First Lady Pat Nixon in Nixon in China at Opéra National de Paris.
- In 2022, Ms. Fleming sang The Circle Game at the Kennedy Center’s Joni Mitchell Songbook presentation, and has said that Joni Mitchell was “a touchstone for me since a friend pressed the “Hissing of Summer Lawns” album into my hands in high school.”
- Ms. Fleming has a long list of awards which includes five Grammys – the most recent a 2023 award for best Classical Solo Vocal Album for Voice Of Nature – The Anthropocene with Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
- Recognized as a fashionista, Fleming wears couture gowns by designers including Chanel, Oscar de la Renta (whom she wore to Buckingham Palace to perform for Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee), Vera Wang (a friend who designed her 2011 wedding reception dress), Gianfranco Ferre, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, and Giorgio Armani.
- She was born Renée Lynn Fleming on February 14, 1959, in Indiana, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Rochester, New York, and started singing lessons as a child with her singing teacher parents. She studied at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York with the idea of becoming a jazz singer before continuing her studies at the Juilliard School.
- Fleming’s first break came in 1988 when she sang the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at the Houston Grand Opera, followed by debuts at the New York City Opera and the Royal Opera House, London.
- In her 2010 album “Dark Hope,” Ms. Fleming’s daughters Sage and Emily and sister Rachelle sang back-up as she covered songs by bands including Jefferson Airplane, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie, Leonard Cohen, Peter Gabriel, and Tears for Fears.
- Ms. Fleming sang the Top 10 List on the David Letterman Show in 2013.
- Ms. Fleming met her second husband, attorney Tim Jessell, on a blind date set up by the author Ann Patchett – who based the heroine of her 2018 novel Bel Canto on Fleming – who sang on the film soundtrack for lead actress Julianne Moore.
- She was the first classical singer ever to perform the National Anthem at the Superbowl in 2014.
- When asked if she still had dreams to achieve, Fleming has said, “I can say that at this stage of my career, all my dreams have come true!”
Fleming’s soprano—another exemplar of legendary beauty—soars with the force of an uncontainable soul. –The New Yorker