Cher Public

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Just in time for Halloween, Decca Classics has released the trailer for the upcoming CD Renée Fleming: Christmas in New York.  “The album celebrates the sparkle and sophistication of the beloved Christmas season in New York City, with music conjuring such iconic scenes as the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and carriage rides in Central Park.”

  • Krunoslav

    Mitzi Gaynor is not just one of opera’s most celebrated sopranos, but perhaps its most convincing actress. A consummate artist, her one and only role when she stands in the spotlight is to breathe so much life into the opera’s main character that audiences lose themselves in her unforgettable performances. That is the passion of Mitzi Gaynor.

  • Chanterelle

    “Who knows where the time goes” on a Christmas album? Who knows where the time goes indeed-- that’s 4’18” of my life I’ll never get back.

  • Podlesmania

    Is this for real? Looks very SNL to me.

    • littoraldrift

      Seconded. RF again in self-parody.

      Shame it’s so common for Christmas music to wind up tacky and musically unrewarding, when it really needn’t be. I have a fond memory of Iestyn Davies at his CH debut a few years back doing a simply gorgeous version of “Bethlehem Down”, a carol I didn’t know and which has a curious backstory:
      “While recognised as a beautiful, haunting and reverent piece of music, Warlock wrote it to finance an “immortal carouse” (a heavy bout of drinking) on Christmas Eve 1927 for himself and Blunt, who were experiencing financial difficulty. The pair submitted the carol to the Daily Telegraph’s annual Christmas carol contest and won.” (Wikipedia)

      • Rackon

        Bethlehem Down is one of my 2 favorite Christmas carols. It’s quite well known to choral singers, especially those of the Anglican persuasion. I’ve sung it many times with small to medium choirs and never tire if its haunting melancholy.

        Warlock was a superb miniaturist and I highly recommend his other wonderful Christmas music as well as his songs. (When he wasn’t carousing or writing music Warlock was penning reviews as the critic Philip Haseltine.) His best known work is the Capriol Suite for strings but Janet Baker and numerous other British singers have included his art songs in recital and on disc. Alas, Warlock took his own life at only age 36.

        My other favorite Carol is the John Gardner arrangement of Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.

    • olliedawg

      Disclaimer: I usually like Renee Fleming’s work, sometimes even love it. She always strikes me as a hard-working professional, earnest, honest, etc.

      I get that there’s always an impetuous for almost every singer to produce an Xmas album. I can understand Ms. Fleming wanting to be “down to earth,” “approachable,” and “nice”. I believe her about NYC being at its most beautiful during the holiday season. I even believe that not everything she does needs to be highfalutin’. But…

      …this project smacks of major-league slumming. Ms. Fleming looks downright bored or, in the case of Mr. Rufus, stunned, and not in a good way, during the video.

      • la vociaccia

        But to be fair, Rufus doesn’t exactly come out of that video looking like the picture of unaffected, authentic expression either…

        • olliedawg

          lc: I’ve admired precisely one song by Rufus — “Poses” — and loved the work he did with his mom (the late, great Kate McGarrigle). Oh, and his rendition of “Everybody Knows” in the Leonard Cohen tribute film was terrific. Beyond that…not a fan.

          • olliedawg

            sorry, meant to type “lv”!

  • Nero Wolfe

    Dreadful. Agreed that one could consider this a SNL parody. I am Jewish and I love a lot of Christmas music but I like it sung fairly straight--not a lot of jazzy or American Idol-ish interpretation thrown in.

    I have an old LP of Joan Sutherland singing Christmas classics with full orchestra in her big voice and I usually take it out during a July or August heat wave and play it. It’s a lot of fun.

    I would like to just hear Kelli O’Hara sing Christmas carols and leave out everyone else.

    • luvtennis

      The best is the HvK/Price Vienna PO recording on Decca. Joan’s is a close second for me, but HVK creates the perfect velvet cushion to display Price’s golden singing.

    • SilvestriWoman

      O’Hara sounds lovely in this clip. I’d buy her holiday album in a second. Renee’s -- only if I needed a back-up party record.

      • pirelli

        It’s interesting listening to the clips of Kelli/Renee and Kurt/Renee in particular. In both cases, Fleming seems to feel she has to “mug” the singing to get it across. Listen to the women when they get to the lyric “It’s ChristmasTIME” -- Renee does this weird “southern accent” thing and oversings -- Kelli just sings honestly. There’s no match here whatsoever. They’re not singing *together* if you know what I mean. In the clip with Kurt Elling, she’s sliding all over the place (as I think she thinks that’s what it means to sing something that isn’t “classical music”), and lo and behold the genuine jazz musician hits each of his pitches square on without any ornamenting. Again, not even an attempt to be singing the same way.

        I suppose you could turn the tables and blame this on everyone but Renee, but I tend to think *she’s* the odd singer out in this case.

        • MontyNostry

          I’ve said this on here before -- it’s a shame that an intelligent woman with such an essentially beautiful voice and a superb technique should somehow have so little sense of style, no matter what idiom she’s singing in.

  • antikitschychick

    Ok this might get me in trouble with our doyenne but I really liked the trailer :-P. It was neat how she talked to the camera and interacted in a relatively laid back/casual manner with the guest artists, AND she sang the *harmony* in the duet with kelly o’hara which sounded pretty damn good imho. The only selection which I thought didn’t sound great was the duet with Rufus because their voices don’t blend well. A shame because they’re both great singers. Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for Christmas music…and also, this is sort of unrelated but, she really does, or did, sing the bejesus (pun intended) out of O Holy Night:

    The tempo is a bit too fast and she struggles somewhat but, 3:43. MAD RESPECT :-P.

    • SilvestriWoman

      It probably helps that, at least as far as Wainwright and Elling, they’ve been friends of hers for years.

    • olliedawg

      antikitschychick — thank you for reminding me yet again that RF can KILL when she’s feelin’ the spirit. That moment at 3:43 seems to last until…3:50? Unfuckingbelievable. She soooo fine.

  • javier

    I have the album but I’m not in the X-Mas mood yet. I don’t know when is the best time to release a X-mas album, but it is oddly close to Halloween.

  • zinka


    If my back was better I might find some tricks…what a treat!!!!!!!

  • zinka


  • zinka

    Let us see if this one works……………….

  • almavivante

    It pains me to ask what may be a very dumb question, but: Do people REALLY buy these Xmas albums from opera singers? Is there REALLY a market for such abysmal things? Can anyone among the cher public name a genuinely interesting Xmas album from an opera star? Years ago, someone knowing my unqualified adoration of Eileen Farrell gave me her Xmas LP. I listened to it once, never again, and confess that if it were from any other artist I’d have regifted it or sold it long ago. All things Eileen are sacred, so I keep it as a curio.

    • Grane

      I like Christmas at Carnegie Hall with Kathleen Battle, Kathleen Battle’s Big Red Dress, oh, and Frederika Von Stade too.

    • Rackon

      I generally loathe opera divas doing overblown holiday standards but there is one album by an opera star I love: Anne Sofie von Otter’s Home For Christmas, which contains few chestnuts and lots of charming @SwedishCanary Yuletide favorites. I also own a pirate DVD of an Advent concert from Dresden with Harteros, Garanca and Kaufmann that I love.

      • Rackon

        That’s “Swedesboro yuletide favorites”.

        • Rackon

          JEEZ I hate this effing phone sometimes. *Swedish* LOL!

  • PennoPicchiPrevedi