Legendary sopranao and Eastman alumna Renée Fleming shakes hands with UR President Joel Seligman before the show. Courtesy of The Democrat and Chronicle.

On Sunday, Feb. 26 Renée Fleming, the greatest soprano in the world and a Rochester native, returned to Eastman School of Music, her alma mater, to perform a concert with the Eastman Philharmonia. The proceeds of the performance are going towards a scholarship intended for future voice and opera students.

Commonly known as “The People’s Diva,” Fleming courteously graced Rochester with her time and talents, even giving students the opportunity to p

erform along with her. One such opportunity was exemplified when three student tenors accompanied her during “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici,” a piece from Giuseppe Verdi’s well-known opera “La Traviata.”

The performance as a whole was especially notable, as Fleming had just performed a four-hour opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City the previous night before her Saturday afternoon arrival in Rochester. The community was honored by her presence, and she was received with overwhelming admiration. The concert program was quite diverse, showing Fleming in a variety of lights, all of which consistently proved her inarguable ability to excel at the art of singing.

Some of the styles she performed consisted of various art songs, operatic arias and popular selections from her new indie-rock album, “Dark Hope,” where she covers songs by bands ranging from Muse to Death Cab for Cutie and more.

In addition to accompanying Fleming, the Eastman Philharmonia perfor

med many selections of their own. One of the selections included Richard Strauss’ famous tone-poem “Death and Transfiguration,” and it was truly the best the orchestra has sounded in years.

It was really a remarkable weekend for Eastman, and it was almost sad to see such a flawless performer leave us.  Not only is Fleming a fantastic musician, but she also is a gracious person. All who got to see her perform will remember it forever, and she remains an inspiration to aspiring musicians everywhere.

Powell is a member of the class of 2011.

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