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Renee Fleming and Evergreen Sym. Orch. March 27, 2007

Posted by TSAI HONG-BIN in Music.

It was March 24. The world-famous soprano, Renee Fleming, was having a concert in National Concert Hall, Taipei, Taiwan. We know Fleming by her “extremely expressive” voice and “dramatical” ways of “shaping her sound”. It’s quite difficult to be judgmental, some appreciate, others don’t, that’s how we treat art – by personal tastes.

We all looked forward to the concert, until we saw the programme. “NUTS!” the very first reaction, by me, when seeing her repertoire. 7 songs. ya, she sings only 7 songs in a 2 hours long concert! What’s worse! the last two are “O Mio Babbino Caro” (from Gianni Schicchi) and “Vissi D’arte” (from Tosca). Rest of the concert is made up by Evergreen Sym. Orch.. I won’t say those two are easy pieces, but they’re definitely not challenging ones, especially for a “world’s greatest soprano”. Gosh, I paid $2400 for this? what a robbery…

In the first part, she sang Strauss’ “four last songs.” It was … definitely NOT OK!!!! I don’t care it’s Fleming’s problem or the conductor should bear the responsibility. I can hear only vowels louder than mezzo forte!! All of the four songs!! Where are piano lines?? where are consonants?? Ma’am! it’s German! it’s Deutsch, you are supposed to pronounce a clear and sustaining “-tsch,” instead of a long, beautiful and full “-eu-” with disappearing “-tsch.” I know they are tranquil songs, but tranquility is by no means silence, mute. Charles Huang gave a good reason that the orchestra was making too much noise that covered Fleming’s singing, but not good enough, because after what had done had done, reasons are merely excuses (http://hcharles.blogspot.com/2007/03/blog-post_9040.html). Besides, there are out-of-controlled audience. Some people just can’t wait till the rest. They kept clapping at each stop of the four songs. Just awkward.

The second part, Fleming did a great job in “Bel raggio lusinghier” (from Semiramide) (finally). Her coloratura was running smoothly, accurately and brightly. I was pretty satisfied with this song, and the “Overture of Romeo and Juliet” after that. Obviously these two songs were my favorites, and unfortunately only these two were pleasing, in that concert. The conductor 王雅惠 had really beautiful and expressive gestures while conducting. She was able to give exact, clear, powerful cue for percussion, but in the opposite, a smooth, soft, tender waves for strings. Her conducting is already an art.

What happened afterward was so …hackneyed… I don’t even want to remember. “Somewhere over the rainbow?” “Summertime?” Oh my god, 徐以琳 is doing so much better than her. Undoubtedly Fleming got skills, but by singing “somewhere..” and “summertime” she just got too much show-off. Well, at least, in my opinion, songs have no way to be naturally beautiful. It is the lyrics, melody, and acting and singing of the singer and the accompanist, all above appropriately mixed together that makes a song beautiful. In other words, if the singer expresses himself/herself too much in a song, the song will lose its focus and become meaningless. That how I felt at the end of that day, Renee Fleming’s concert in Taipei, Taiwan.

In my experience of going to soprano concerts in Taipei, Sumi Jo is the best. Her coloratura is just so magic, like angel, naturally flowed from her throat like she was born and nurtured by a nightingale. Especially when she encored ” Les Oiseaux dans la Charmille,” just lovely! Bravo! Kiwiciao wrote a log (http://kiwiciao.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!FF6ACF2404C56C6D!1046.entry)

Last thing, French horn, go kill yourself!



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