Renée Fleming takes a detour into indie rock
When not performing in opera houses around the world, soprano Renée Fleming has been known to dip a manicured toe into the waters of jazz, Broadway tunes, holiday music and film soundtracks ("The Lord of the Rings").
In what may be a first for the ubiquitous Grammy-winning opera star, Fleming is traveling way downtown in her new album, "Dark Hope," in which she performs pieces by indie-rock bands including Muse, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses and Death Cab For Cutie.
The album also includes songs by Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, The Mars Volta, Jefferson Airplane and Leonard Cohen.
"Dark Hope," which is being released by Decca, is scheduled to go on sale this spring. Amazon lists the release date as June 8.
Fleming worked with producer David Kahne on the project, but the idea for the album came from Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein (from the talent agency Q-Prime Management), who persuaded the opera star to take on the challenge.
Fleming has said that she tried to find a "stylistically authentic" way of performing the songs and that "singing in the lowest part of my voice was key to making this work."
The singer described making the album as "a wonderful learning curve, one reminiscent of my early days studying Mozart as a Juilliard student."
She also said her two daughters and sister performed as back-up singers on the album.
A number of famous opera stars have made detours to the pop world during their careers, including Luciano Pavarotti, who once partnered with the Spice Girls, and more recently, Nathan Gunn, who collaborated on an album with Billy Joel and other artists.
Fleming's most recent L.A. appearance was at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in December, when she performed a recital organized by Los Angeles Opera.
"Dark Hope" contains 11 tracks...
No One's Gonna Love You (Band of Horses)
Oxygen (Willy Mason)
Today (Jefferson Airplane)
Intervention (Arcade Fire)
With Twilight as My Guide (The Mars Volta)
Mad World (Tears for Fears)
In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
Stepping Stone (Duffy)
Soul Meets Body (Death Cab For Cutie)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
-- David Ng
Photo: Renée Fleming at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in December. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times