Thursday, February 13, 2014

Post SuperBowl 2014, Renee Fleming proves she's the best in Met Opera Live HD Rusalka

by Dwight Casimere

PHOTO: Ken Howard/MetOpera

NEW YORK--Anyone who didn't know who Renee Fleming was before her singing of the Star Bangled Banner before millions in a worldwide television audience before Super Bowl XLVIII, certainly knows who she is now. If they attended the Met Live HD transmission of the opera Rusalka in movie theaters around the globe, they would have gotten a chance to see her in action on her 'day job' at the Metropolitan Opera, in one of the signature roles of her career. Anyone who missed it, will get an opportunity to see her again in the role, when the Met encores the Live HD performance in U.S. theaters Wednesday, February 12,  6:30pm local time. Canadian audiences will experience an Encore performance on Saturday, March 29 at 12pm ET and again on Monday, March 31 at 6pm local time.

In a fashion that ironically mimics the beginning of many football star's careers, Renee Fleming  burst onto the opera scene twenty-five years ago after catching the attention of opera scouts at the Met's National Council Auditions. She has since sung the role at the Met more than any other singer in Met  history. Sitting in the  darkened theatre at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square, it was easy to see why. Renee Fleming is Rusalka, in all of her mystical, nymph-like glory, with an ethereal voice that has even become more alluring over time.

Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin leads an all-star cast, including Polish tenor Piotr Beczala as the strikingly handsome Prince. His command of the linguistically difficult Czech text wrestles this somewhat forward, abrasive sounding language to sheer lyrical poetry with his strong, yet supple voice. Dolora Zajick, as the deliciously evil witch Jezibaba, sends her powerhouse voice vaulting to the rafters, at times matching reverb for reverb the booming sounds of car crashes and explosions leaking over from the SciFi  action film RoboCop showing in the movie theatre next door.

Met favorite John Relyea gives a forceful, tongue-in-cheek performance as the Water Gnome and New York native Emily Magee acquits herself well in her Met debut as the Foreign Princess. It's almost worth seeing this production twice, if only to hear Renee Fleming sing Dvorak's "Song to the Moon" in the opening act.            

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera