Renee Fleming takes on three roles for opera gala

Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:30pm EDT
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Opera star Renee Fleming is used to challenging roles, and will take on three for The Metropolitan Opera's Gala season opening on Monday that will mark the 125th anniversary of the company.

Fleming, whose latest recording of Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" with the Munich Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann was released last week, will sing three of her signature roles with three different conductors.

Music Director James Levine, Marco Armiliato and Patrick Summers will conduct fully staged performances of the second act of Verdi's La Traviata, the third act of Massenet's Manon, and the final scene from Richard Strauss's Capriccio.

Tenor Ramn Vargas, baritones Thomas Hampson and Dwayne Croft, and bass Robert Lloyd will join Fleming for the event.

Fleming will also wear new costumes designed specially for the gala by Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano and Christian Lacroix.

She spoke to Reuters about the event and singing songs by Strauss, which are the most frequently performed pieces in her repertoire.

Q: You will sing three acts from three different operas, each with a different cast and conductor and each in a new costume? Isn't that going to be a challenge?

A: "I don't think any woman has anchored three different acts on the opening night of The Metropolitan Opera season. It's an honor and a great responsibility. These are the most challenging scenes from each of these three operas. The stamina and the variety of vocal requirements varies tremendously. But I know these pieces very well and I plan to give it my all and I'm hoping that the audience is very entertained."   Continued...

<p>Opera star Renee Fleming (R) performs as Violetta next to Ramon Vargas as Alfredo during the final dress rehearsal of "La Traviata" at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in this September 19, 2008 handout photo released to Reuters September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera/Handout</p>