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Renée Fleming -- opera, pop and snobbery (and music samples)

June 5, 2010 |  7:00 am

RF By no means do I mean to sound self-centered, but when I interviewed Renée Fleming to detail the making of her first rock album, "Dark Hope" -- you can read the article here -- she said she was going to start consulting me about music. I was, she said, the rare person "tuned in to something I've been thinking a lot about lately -- the bridge between classical and contemporary music, and where one leads to another."

I don't know how rare I am for loving both classical music and rock.  And regardless of what listeners make of the opera singer's rendition of songs like "Endlessly" by British band Muse, "Dark Hope" sure does fire up the cultural shouting match between classical music and rock. While I have my opinions about how, in musical terms, the  genres should stay in their own corners, I wholeheartedly agree with "Dark Hope" producer David Kahne, who told me, "Anybody who thinks they're coming down from opera to an Arcade Fire song is full of it. People who are snobs don't understand there are people speaking out into the darkness, trying to express themselves, with a hell of a lot of talent, in every genre of music."

How true. Your emotions don't judge whether something that moves you is a concerto for orchestra (Bartok's is one of my absolute favorite pieces of classical music) or tortured guitar lines dancing with slashing beats (as with the Walkmen, one of my favorite recent rock bands). You just feel. And that, ultimately, is what any musician is after, on stage at the Disney Concert Hall or Spaceland.

-- Kevin Berger, from New York

Listen to "Endlessly" and a few more of the songs on Fleming's rock album.

"Today" -

"With Twilight As My Guide" -

"In Your Eyes" -

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles.