I have anticipated the release of Verismo ever since I heard it was made, courtesy of Opera News' interview with Renee feautured in their September 2008 issue. This is the repertoire I have longed to hear her sing for so long just to hear how she would sing it. For those of us who are ardent followers of Renee's career and who own more than a few of her recordings, we were given a sampling of this genre with her self-titled album where she included O mio babbino caro, Un bel di vedremo, and Casta Diva among other gems. It was about these interpretations a certain reviewer on Amazon was speaking when they derided Renee as a second rate singer who holds notes longer and sings higher than other singers simply because she can. This, of course, had no effect upon me other than to discredit this person as ignorant, but, then, it may be said that I am biased in Renee's favor. We would be remiss to neglect to mention her beautiful rendition of Vissi d'arte on her Homage release. I listened to that track so much that I now hear "clicks" in the background. Another of my favorite tracks on that disc, Erich Korngold's Ich ging zu ihm also begins to reveal excessive enjoyment; nevertheless, I think that I may be forgiven for the facts that this was the first classical CD I bought from a retail outlet, this was my first Renee Fleming CD, and it was one of my only operatic CD's for the longest time, that is until I became acquainted with eBay.
I must say that I do not think that there is a dull track on this disc. I love how Renee always says that she could never sing this sort of repertoire. Despite what she maintains, one must wonder whether she actually could or not. My readers will invariably ask how I could even think such a thing; in reply I direct their attention to Renee's autobiography The Inner Voice. In it she tells of her collaboration with the famed Hungarian-British conductor Sir Georg Solti, and the maestro, who compared her voice to Renata Tebaldi's in saying they were the two greatest sopranos he had ever met in his life, told her that she should sing either Isolde or Brunnhilde, I cannot recall which. Renee, of course, said that she did not think he actually thought she could sing it, only that he wanted to hear a voice like hers sing it. Nevertheless, one does not become a record holder of the most Grammy awards (yes, Sir Georg Solti possessed 38 Grammy's in his lifetime) by making bad recordings or by not knowing something about music; we shall never know if he knew something we do not about singing. Perhaps Renee could have learned to sing these heavier roles with little or no change to her voice. In any case I am pleased and ecstatic that she is releasing this recital. I cannot wait to hear it; if only the classical music radio stations worked like their contemporary counterparts, we would not be in such a state of waiting!
Well, if I do not buy this disc when it is released, I think all of my readers know what will be at the top of my list for things that I want for my birthday. Marco Armiliato conducts this excellent recording. I could speak volumes about this man. If I ever do become an opera singer, he is a conductor with whom I would long to collaborate.
Thank you all for continuing to peruse my humble posts, and I hope that I have piqued your interest in this new release.