Soprano Renee Fleming is called “The People’s Diva” and for good reason.  After all, how many opera singers have sung the national anthem at the World Series or have sung David Letterman’s Top Ten to great opera melodies?  (Knowledgeable opera fans will be quick to invoke the name of baritone Robert Merrill in answer to the first question, by the way.)   Renee Fleming is also very down-to-earth and easy going, rather like the proverbial girl-next-store;   further, she is gorgeous and has exquisite taste in clothes. 

But put aside all of that for a moment.   An opera singer doesn’t become world-famous for just appearing on television or singing in a ball park.  It all starts with the voice, and Renee Fleming’s is a truly remarkable instrument.    There are singers whose voices require that they confine their stage appearances to certain roles.   With Ms. Fleming, it’s different.  She has sung in an amazingly wide range of operas:   very demanding works by Handel, the difficult bel canto operas of Bellini and Donizetti, tuneful operettas and the lush, sensual music of Richard Strauss.  Her recordings range further afield, exploring the verismo repertory, the “Age of the Diva” and favorite romantic and operatic arias.  She can do it all, with even an occasional foray into the nightclub songs.

In anticipation of Renee Fleming’s return to Hampton Roads for the Virginia Arts Festival on February 17, we will be holding a mini-festival of our own, starting February 2.  Each morning that week during the 9 o’clock hour, we will play arias by Renee Fleming and give away one of her compact discs.  Tune in to enjoy great music beautifully sung by one of the finest singers of our time.