Superstar lyric soprano Renée Fleming's tour itinerary says a lot about how far Miami has come as a cultural destination. Listed are three dates in Paris, two in Vienna, a stop in New York to sing with the brilliant L.A. Philharmonic featuring conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, then it's off to yes, Miami. She debuts in Miami with the New World Symphony and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Credit Tilson Thomas, the increasingly superb NWS, and classical music audiences in Miami for attracting this level of talent to the area. The fans, in many cases, are also benefactors of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. The stack of fat checks they sent to the Performing Arts Trust building fund also helps, since stars generally enjoy playing in brand-new, $450 million digs.
Fleming became a standout when music directors and fellow singers noticed that she possessed two vocal qualities that are often mutually exclusive in the opera world: power and nuance. The Pennsylvania native, daughter of not one, but two voice teachers, has also benefited from careful selection of repertoire. This systematic building of the voice helps artists avoid the untoward strains that come with singing only heavier works like Verdi's Otello. Mozart has been a staple for Fleming through the years, as she premiered new works like Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire and John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. Having performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and at La Scala, the Juilliard graduate finally had the confidence in her place at the top of the list of active sopranos. A Michael Bolton collaboration, while not garnering any critical favor, gained her droves of new fans, as did her appearance on the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King soundtrack.
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Pop music escapades aside, Fleming remains the most revered soprano working today. That Miami's ready to receive her with a world-class orchestra and a state-of-the-art venue is cause for celebration.