Influences: Soprano Renee Fleming
Soprano Renée Fleming occupies such a high orbit in the operatic stratosphere that her fame practically overshadows everyone else -- a fact that few people seem to begrudge because of the singer's talent, charm and consummate professionalism.
On Tuesday, Fleming will make a rare touchdown in Orange County for a concert at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, where she will perform operatic arias, Broadway tunes and a few indie rock songs from her 2010 album "Dark Hope."
Fleming said her rock numbers will be accompanied on stage by some of the same band members who worked on her album. "It was a request from Henry Segerstrom himself," said the singer, speaking from New York. "He specifically wanted the band." (Segerstrom will be celebrating his 88th birthday on the day of the concert.)
The soprano is fitting the Costa Mesa concert in between performances of Richard Strauss' "Capriccio" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The opera will be broadcast to movie theaters on April 23 as part of the Met’s Live in HD program.
Fleming, 52, said she has no plans to do another pop album -- "I'm not a person who repeats very much," she said. This summer, she'll be in Paris to record an album of French music. After that, Fleming said she wants to devote more time in her career to concerts and recitals, especially to German songs. "I'm kind of enamored of the song recital and I'm looking forward to getting back to that," she said.
Fleming recently became engaged to her boyfriend, Timothy Jessell, a lawyer. "We're sort of putting [the wedding] together now, and we're thinking September," said the singer. (She has two daughters, Amelia and Sage, from a previous marriage.)
At the moment, the engagement is long distance -- Fleming lives in New York while Jessell is in the Washington, D.C., area. "We haven't resolved that yet," said Fleming, adding that they are taking things slowly.
Fleming spoke about some of the creative influences in her life, as well as some of the musical influence that she has on her daughters.
Marilyn Horne: It all goes back to the first album my father bought me -- Marilyn Horne singing German lieder. It was my introduction to lieder sung by a consummate professional who was in her prime. Certain musical moments in your life become markers, and this was one of them for me.
"Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Krzysztof Penderecki: I first heard it in high school, where I had a special class for composition. I loved it because it sounded like what it was about. Usually, some sort of new music captured my imagination. George Crumb's “Ancient Voices of Children” was another obsession.
Modern art: I love art from sort of the late 19th century to now. I wasn't exposed to this much as a child. The first time it struck was at the National Gallery in London, when I was a student, and I happened to go as a tourist and there was an exhibit on Marc Chagall. His art is so whimsical and fanciful and inherently romantic, and that started me on my journey.
The musical tastes of my daughters: When I was a kid, nobody listened to what their parents listened to. Now it's quite common. My 15-year-old [Sage] is into '40s music and Frank Sinatra, and my daughter in college [Amelia] is into classical music. Their listening habits are more eclectic than ours were. It's not because I'm a hip parent.
-- David Ng
Photos: Top, Renée Fleming, with fiancé Timothy Jessell, in December. Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters. Bottom, Fleming at the Hollywood Bowl in 2004. Credit: Los Angeles Times