“Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go, and then you had the feeling that you wanted to stay?” This soul-searching question is likely running through the mind of Renée Fleming as she fills up Internet bandwidth, radio airwaves, and cinemas with more Marschallins this week.
So let’s bid her “Ja, ja” with, in my opinion, a more suitable vehicle: Richard Strauss’ “conversation piece,” Capriccio.
The cast of this 2014 performance from the Chicago leg of her farewell tour includes Bo Skovhus, William Burden, Audun Iversen, Peter Rose, and Anne Sofie von Otter, with Andrew Davis on the podium.
This also inches me closer to uploading Strauss’ entire operatic oeuvre.
Confession time: from Fleming’s first stab at Resi at the Met back in January 2000, I never found it an appropriate vehicle for her talents. A few days after the premiere, I lunched with an aging artists’ manager who had worked with Fleming early in her career. After voicing my opinion, he asked, “You know why Renée will never be a great Marschallin?” He then tapped his temple.
I must also confess some wonderful memories, such as Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, and the world premieres in San Francisco of The Dangerous Liaisons and A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as Capriccio at Wiener Staatsoper.
Most memorable was the 2007 gala opening of the Grafenegg Festival, celebrating the inauguration of the architectural award-winning outdoor arena, the Wolkenturm, in a light-but-steady rainfall.
As 2,000 people struggled to maneuver dry cleaning bags over their eveningwear, Fleming waited patiently for the noise to die down, and then dazzled us with a string of obscure arias by Erich Korngold, and what seemed to be her signature theme, an exquisite “Mesicku na nebi hlubokém” from Rusalka.
Her career choices have been somewhat confounding, but there were always exceptions, when she legitimately lived up to all of her hype.
Post scriptum: Angela Gheorghiu has withdrawn from today’s free worldwide livestream of Tosca from Wiener Staatsoper; her replacement is Martina Serafin.