Fleming to make music with local company

Concert to benefit Baltimore Opera

June 06, 2007|By Tim Smith ... | Tim Smith ...,sun music critic

Renee Fleming, the velvet-toned, unfailingly glamorous soprano who is among today's most popular opera stars, will sing a benefit concert for the Baltimore Opera Company on Dec. 8.

Fleming's program at the Lyric Opera House has not been finalized, but "it will be an evening of operatic arias, repertoire that is close to her," company general director Michael Harrison said yesterday.

The Grammy Award-winning soprano will be backed by the Baltimore Opera Orchestra, conducted by Wang Ya-Hui, a Peabody Institute graduate and former music director of the Akron Symphony in Ohio.

Harrison said that Fleming's appearance is being made possible by "a very generous gift from really understated donors" who are big fans of the singer but prefer not to be identified.

Those donors and nearly two dozen other Baltimore Opera patrons recently traveled to Paris to hear Fleming sing a concert version of Jules Massenet's Thais and

were welcomed into her dressing room after the performance. "She could not have been more gracious to all of us," Harrison said.

Fleming, 48, a regular box-office draw at the Metropolitan Opera and other leading houses in the world, is especially noted for her interpretations of Mozart and Strauss works, as well as Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. She created the role of Blanche in Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire.

Although Fleming's local debut was in 2005, when she sang a Christmas program with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, this will be her first performance of operatic music in the city.

"I am thrilled beyond words to have her," Harrison said. "And I think this can be exceptionally good for the Baltimore Opera."

Harrison, who said that the company was "in the process of securing additional underwriting," did not specify a fundraising target for the concert.

Regular ticket prices range from $50 to $140. There also will be 100 seats priced at $250, which includes a post-concert reception with Fleming. Harrison said that Peabody Institute voice students will be invited to a rehearsal.

Tickets are on sale now to current or new Baltimore Opera subscribers, and go on sale to the general public Aug. 27. For more information, call 410-727-6000 or go to baltimoreopera.com.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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