I have a huge affection for Renée Fleming, for various reasons, and not always for her singing. Vocally, she and I have good weeks and bad weeks. I still think her disc of Mozart arias is one of the best Mozart aria discs ever recorded. I adore her in her capacity as Met in HD hostess with the mostess. But then again, I really really was not impressed with her latest recording of the Four Last Songs, despite all the gushing it has garnered from critics. So it's safe to say I've not been in the best mood with Renée lately.
With perfect timing, however, she's turned up to make me change my mind yet again. I happened across an interview on Ovation (I have cable TV now, temporarily) and she won me over in about ten seconds flat. Just as she does every time I see her interviewed. Because, however much I might question the decisions she makes, I can't question her intelligence or her passion for the art. Maybe she doesn't sing to everybody's tastes, but tihs is one seriously smart, articulate woman, utterly engaged with the music she sings and all the thought behind and around it. So if the decisions she ultimately makes don't appeal to me, well, fine, but I have to respect them when they come from such a person. When a soprano is asked "to whom do you listen, whom do you admire?" and the first names which spring to her mind are Magda Olivero and Rosanna Carteri, it's hard not to be impressed.
And also there is the singing. Which, despite those Four Last Songs, still has the capacity to be appallingly gorgeous. The interview was followed by a clip from her Tatyana at the Met. My jaw dropped. I mean, I had read all the praise for it, but still, this was amazing. Enough to make me feel I might need to own that DVD very soon. Then tonight, I managed to turn the radio on just in time for the final scene of Thais and once again, she had me in throes of delight. I suppose I'll never reach the point of loving her irrationally in every note and every role she sings but when it's the right music and the right emotion and that voice, she's perfection, and even changeable little me can't resist that.