WBEZ | renee fleming http://www.wbez.org/tags/renee-fleming Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Renowned theater companies pair up for operatic laughs http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/renowned-theater-companies-pair-operatic-laughs-101019 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tragedina2.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 5px; height: 327px; width: 225px;" title="Princess Tragedina (WBEZ/Cassidy Herrington)" />Two Chicago theater companies are joining forces in an unlikely double act.<p>The Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago announced Wednesday that cheeky comedy and classical singing will share the same stage in <em>The Second City Guide to Opera</em> this winter.</p><p>The Lyric&rsquo;s General Director Anthony Freud said the performance will not only appeal to opera fans, but also those who think &ldquo;an opera house was the last place in the world they would ever be entertained.&rdquo;</p><p>Second City spokesperson Alexandra Day said that each company will do what it does best, but with &ldquo;areas of what we hope will be hilarious overlap.&rdquo; &nbsp;The show will feature the celebrated soprano, Renee Fleming, and a comedy star to be announced at a later date.</p><p>Fleming is also the Lyric&rsquo;s creative consultant. She came up with the idea to unite Second City and the Lyric after hearing one of her recordings play during a Second City skit, Freud said. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;On behalf of everyone (at) The Second City I want to thank Renee for not suing us,&rdquo; Kelly Leonard, Second City&rsquo;s executive vice president said. &ldquo;We are obviously thrilled that our use of unaccredited sampling has become an opportunity rather than a cease-and-desist letter.&rdquo;</p><p>Leonard said the two companies make a surprising but natural partnership because of the experimental nature of Chicago&rsquo;s art scene.</p><p>&ldquo;The city has always thrived when it mixes high art and low art,&rdquo; Leonard said. &ldquo;We are at our best when we are not bound by categories.&rdquo;</p><p>Lyric Opera&rsquo;s General Director Anthony Freud says the collaboration is an effort to bring opera to audiences of different backgrounds.</p><p>&ldquo;You can ask, &lsquo;What possible relevance could it have to a very 21<sup>st</sup> century, very un-European city like Chicago?,&rsquo;&rdquo; Freud said. &ldquo;What I can say is that if you distill opera down to its basics, what is it? It&rsquo;s telling stories through words and music.&rdquo;</p><p>Freud said the collaboration is part of the company&rsquo;s recently announced effort to bring opera to a wider audience. Lyric Unlimited focuses on community partnerships, education and performances at the opera house and around the city.</p><p>&ldquo;Together I think we can try to explore how opera can find a way of becoming truly relevant to people and communities for whom it has had absolutely no relevance up to now,&rdquo; Freud said.</p><p>This year, the Lyric will unveil its first program specifically designed for families, he said. It&rsquo;s an interactive 70-minute version of the classic, <em>Don Pasquale</em>, called <em>Popcorn and Pasquale</em>. The theater is offering lower ticket prices for families and is also partnering with sponsors to provide free tickets to families in need. Lyric Unlimited is funded by a $2 million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, announced earlier this month.</p><p>The Lyric&#39;s upcoming collaboration with The Second City is an example of these efforts to connect with new audiences and art forms.</p><p>To demonstrate the point, two Second City e.t.c. performers, Tawny Newsome and Michael Kosinski, acted out a musical sketch at the press conference Wednesday. The skit parodied the unlikely flirtation between opera and improv, featuring the operatic caricature,&ldquo;Princess Tragedina,&rdquo; and the improv actor, &ldquo;Gary.&rdquo; The troubled princess remarked how their relationship was hopeless because she requires &ldquo;elaborate sets&rdquo; &ndash; not typically found on an improv stage.</p><p>The fate of the Lyric and the improv relationship will unfold on the Civic Opera House&#39;s stage on Jan. 5.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 18:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/renowned-theater-companies-pair-operatic-laughs-101019 Famed opera singer Renee Fleming mentors Chicago high school students http://www.wbez.org/music/music-news/famed-opera-singer-renee-fleming-mentors-chicago-high-school-students-97911 <p><p>Famed opera singer Renee Fleming has been spending time with high school students in Chicago.</p><p>The soprano is the creative consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As part of her position, she mentors vocal students at the Merit School of Music on Chicago's West Side. Fleming has used online video to digitally visit the students' classrooms. She's also given in-person master classes, coaching the young singers.</p><p>Fleming says she wants to make sure students have access to arts education. She says she's also interested in inspiring undiscovered talent. Fleming has made this kind of community outreach a priority since joining the Lyric Opera in December 2010.</p><p>She has said the main goals of her "Renee Fleming Initiative" at the opera are providing access to opera for young people and finding and nurturing promising singers.</p></p> Wed, 04 Apr 2012 10:50:04 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/music/music-news/famed-opera-singer-renee-fleming-mentors-chicago-high-school-students-97911 Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming lead classical music flash mob http://www.wbez.org/story/yo-yo-ma-renee-fleming-lead-classical-music-flash-mob-97443 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/yoyoma1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a normal day, the lower level of the Thompson Center in Chicago is like any other food court.&nbsp; But Monday afternoon, a sort-of classical flash-mob transformed the space from dining hall to concert hall.</p><p>Soprano Renee Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma led a chorus of Chicago high school students and Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians in the performance. The show opened up with a call-and-response piece by students from Lake View High School, Chicago High School for the Arts and Merit School of Music. Then Ma and Fleming appeared and performed a piece together, accompanied by a pianist.</p><p>For most people, the event was a total and complete surprise. Some audience members had received an email from the CSO that some sort of concert was going on, but they had no idea who would be performing.</p><p>The group then performed a second song for the audience, "America, the Beautiful." Ma, Fleming and the students were accompanied by musicians from the CSO for this number and encouraged diners and onlookers to sing along. The performance was part of Citizen Musician, an initiative run by the CSO that calls on musicians to use their talents as community-building tools.</p><p>"We do believe so much in the importance of music and the arts not just in the concert hall, but in our everyday lives," Ma said.</p><p>The food court has since returned to its normal state.<a name="video"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4yUCBNJjnuA" width="640"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 20:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/yo-yo-ma-renee-fleming-lead-classical-music-flash-mob-97443 Renee Fleming dons new operatic hat at Chicago's Lyric http://www.wbez.org/story/culture/art/renee-fleming-dons-new-operatic-hat-chicagos-lyric <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/reneeflemingconcert.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The world-famous soprano Renee Fleming is about to play a prominent role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.</p><p>Fleming's voice has filled the opera house in the past. But now Chicagoans will see and hear a lot more of her. Fleming's just been named the Lyric's first creative consultant and elected a vice president of the board. She'll curate a new opera here. <br /><br />&quot;The only thing standing between opera as a living entity and opera as an historic art form is the creation of new works,&quot; Fleming said.<br /><br />Fleming plans to develop a program to find and nurture young singers, expose more people to opera, and present an annual musical, starting with &quot;Oklahoma.&quot; She'll keep singing and touring, and do more performances here.<br /><br />Fleming starts the five-year appointment right away. <br /><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 10 Dec 2010 00:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/culture/art/renee-fleming-dons-new-operatic-hat-chicagos-lyric