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One-night-only Special Appearance! Reigning Queen of Opera, Soprano Renée Fleming, Ushers in Pacific Symphony’s 2016-17 Season Celebrating 10th Anniversary of Segerstrom Concert Hall
Orange County, Calif. — July 13, 2016
Pacific Symphony launches its upcoming 2016-17 season in glorious style this September with a one-night-only spectacular—“An Evening with Renée Fleming,” featuring “America’s reigning diva” (The Washington Post) for more than a decade in a rare Orange County appearance! One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry and compelling stage presence. From the Metropolitan Opera and the White House to the Super Bowl and now the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the internationally sought-after soprano arrives to inaugurate the Symphony’s 10th season in its home. There is no better place in the world to hear this modern diva’s sumptuous voice and dazzling technique than in the opulent and acoustically superior Segerstrom Concert Hall.
This glittering high note spotlighting one of the most revered opera stars and greatest voices of our time takes place Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, prior to the official start of the subscription season the following week on Sept. 22-24. Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, this special concert is sure to sell out quickly. Tickets are on sale now for $50-$175. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
“It’s certain to be an unforgettable night—the perfect send-off for our 2016-17 season—when we are joined by the illustrious Renée Fleming,” says St.Clair. “Who better to inaugurate the concert hall on the occasion of its 10th anniversary? Her exquisite voice will only be enhanced by our hall’s sonic beauty. The memorable night will live on in our memories for a long time to come.”
The concert features four-time Grammy Award-winner Fleming—whom The Telegraph calls the “possessor of the most sheerly beautiful soprano voice on the planet”—singing Richard Strauss’ hauntingly beautiful “Four Last Songs,” a lush late-Romantic work written near the end of the composer’s career; it is certainly among the greatest song cycles for soprano and orchestra. The songs are “Frühling” (Spring), “September,” “Beim Schlafengehen” (When Falling Asleep) and “Im Abendrot” (At Sunset). The title “Four Last Songs” was provided posthumously by Strauss’ friend Ernst Roth, who published the four songs together in 1950 after Strauss’ death. The Symphony’s program also includes a dazzling selection of popular favorites from the world of opera and the Broadway stage.
In May, a review by The New York Times of Fleming’s performance at the Metropolitan Opera provided a glimpse of what Orange County audiences are sure to experience: “…the melting warmth and subtle colorings that have long characterized her singing were there to savor. And she brought keen insight and wistful expressivity to her account of the autumnal ‘Four Last Songs.’ I was especially moved by ‘Beim Schlafengehen,’ a setting of a Hesse poem about the desire to sink into slumber after a tiring day (or, if you choose to take it this way, after a tiring life). Ms. Fleming shaped the phrases tenderly and conveyed almost an eagerness to slip into sleep, exactly the quality with which Strauss’s music imbues the words.”
Strauss was a boy of 6 when he wrote his first song, and an old man of 84 when he completed his last. In-between, he had a hugely successful career as a conductor and composer of symphonies, songs and operas. But it was the melding of music and poetry—especially with the sound of the soprano voice—that drew him back time and again. His sublimely serene and transcendent “Four Last Songs,” written a year before his death, sadly, became his epitaph.
Strauss had felt himself slowing down in 1948. There was a new world order, his youth was behind him, and the unfortunate appropriation of his music by the Third Reich during World War II deeply affected him. But then he became inspired by a piece by the lyric poet Josef von Eichendorff, “Im Abendrot,” and was soon turning it into an orchestral song; it became the final song in the set “The Four Last Songs.” Within five months, the three remaining songs, also full of radiant lyricism, orchestral color and the soprano voice, followed it. Strauss’s last wish was that his swan song should be premiered by the Wagnerian soprano, Kirsten Flagstad. Unfortunately, he died eight months before his wish came true. “Four Last Songs” was first heard in London in May 1950, performed by Flagstad, the Philharmonia and Wilhelm Furtwängler. It is the apotheosis of Strauss’s life and work.
“Music’s ineffable, emotional impact has always been its most significant measure,” music writer David Mermelstein wrote of “Four Last Songs” in The Wall Street Journal: “And here Strauss—reflecting on a life rich in accomplishment and recognition but also tarnished by the destruction of the world he loved—produced a swan song that coupled ravishing sonic beauty with words that did not shrink from the inevitable.”
After more than a decade, superstar Fleming continues to grace the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls and rack up innumerable accomplishments. She brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014, as the first classical artist to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. That same year, Fleming sang in the televised concert at the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2013, she was named the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo, and President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest honor for an individual artist, at a White House ceremony. In 2012, in a historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II.
In January 2009, Fleming was featured in the televised “We Are One: The Inaugural Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama; performed for the United States Supreme Court; and celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s “Velvet Revolution” at the invitation of Václav Havel. In 2008, she gave performances in Beijing during the Olympic Games and also became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala. In 2006, Fleming sang at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. She has also hosted a wide variety of television and radio broadcasts, including the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series for movie theaters and television, and “Live From Lincoln Center” on PBS.
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