LSM Newswire

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Renee Fleming Makes Her Maine Debut with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, February 17


Concert is PSO's first endowment benefit event and Fleming's Maine debut

PORTLAND, Maine At a once-in-a-lifetime event, superstar soprano Rene Fleming makes her Maine debut with the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO), honoring Robert Moody's inaugural season in an endowment benefit concert. The event will be held at Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., with a Concert Conversation, in partnership with PORTopera, in the Rehearsal Hall at 6:15 p.m.

One of the greatest sopranos of this, or any, era, Rene Fleming is at the peak of her powers. Her purity of tone, musical intelligence and grace allow her to excel on operatic stages and in orchestral settings, but it is in recital where her subtlest gifts shine through. With the PSO she will perform works from both the classical and popular repertoire including: Richard Strauss' Suite from Der Rosenkavalier and Four Last Songs, "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, "Carousel Waltz" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel, and more.

Rene Fleming charms audiences with her performances throughout the world. Her voice has been described as "one of a kind, with a combination of incredible technical control, emotional vividness and presence, and sheer, incandescent beauty of sound." She performed as the soloist at New York's Metropolitan Opera's Opening Night Gala on September 22, 2008 and returns in Massenet's Thas and Dvok's Rusalka. Later this season, she appears in La Traviata at London's Covent Garden.

Illustrative of her stature, in the last year Fleming has launched her own fragrance, La Voce by Rene Fleming, and has even had a flower (The Rene Fleming Iris) and a dessert (La Diva Rene, by famed chef Daniel Boulud) named in her honor. A two-time Grammy winner, Fleming's most recent CD is Strauss: Four Last Songs, conducted by Christian Thielemann (2008). She is featured on the Metropolitan Opera's recording of Eugene Onegin which is currently under consideration for a 2009 Grammy. Her numerous awards include Sweden's Polar Prize (2008); the Chevalier de la Lgion d'Honneur by the French government (2005); Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003); and a 2003 honorary doctorate from The Juilliard School, where she was also commencement speaker.

This is the first time the PSO has held an endowment benefit concert. The PSO's endowment provides financial security for the PSO's concert and education activities, and acts as a safety net especially during fluctuations in the economic climate. "Though orchestras typically maintain a minimum 3:1 ratio of endowment to operating budget, the PSO's is less than 1:1, which makes this special event all the more significant," said Gordon Gayer, president of the Board of Trustees. "We are thrilled to welcome Rene Fleming for this special event, especially during Robert Moody's inaugural season, and are grateful to the patrons who are supporting the future of the PSO through their ticket purchases to this concert, as well as those who support the Symphony throughout the year."

Serving the city of Portland, the state of Maine, and northern New England, the PSO is the largest performing arts organization in Maine. With critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement, the PSO is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country.

Tickets to An Evening with Rene Fleming range from $65 to $140 and are available through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or (Phone and internet orders are subject to $5 per ticket handling fee.) Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office at 20 Myrtle St., Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. For complete season information, including artist biographies and program notes, visit

Full Program for An Evening With Rene Fleming
Portland Symphony Orchestra February 17, 2009 7:30 PM

  • Suite from Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)
  • Four Last Songs (Richard Strauss): These songs for soprano and orchestra were written in 1948, a year before Strauss' death at age 85. He never saw them performed. Ms. Fleming has recorded Four Last Songs twice and is well-known for her Strauss repertoire.
  • Morgen (Morning) (Richard Strauss): Strauss composed "Morgen" as the final piece in a set of four songs in 1894. Known for his large-scale operas and tone poems, Strauss' lieder are examples of his genius for delicate intimacy as well. "Morgen" is filled with late romantic musical language but requires in performance the clarity and exquisite simplicity of any Mozart aria.
  • A Letter from Sullivan Ballou (John Kander): By the composer of Cabaret and Chicago, the song is a story of a touching letter by a Union major expressing his love for his family and country before heading off to fight in the Civil War. Featured on Ken Burns' PBS documentary, The Civil War.
  • "Carousel Waltz" from Carousel (Richard Rodgers)
  • Two Rivers Medley (arranged by Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour): A blending of the songs Shenandoah and The Water is Wide.
  • "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess (George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin)
  • "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate (Cole Porter)
  • "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe)

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