Renée Fleming enjoys an extraordinary association with Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to earning enormous acclaim in a remarkably diverse repertoire onstage at Lyric, she has also sung four special concerts, including her 25th Anniversary Concert, collaborating with tenor Jonas Kaufmann, the late baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and music director and principal conductor Sir Andrew Davis as well as a duo recital (with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham). She has been a featured artist in four galas, including Lyric Unlimited’s Chicago Voices Concert and Gala, for which she was host and artistic director. Since 2010 Fleming has had an exceptional impact on both the company and arts education in Chicago in her role as Lyric’s first creative consultant. She now serves as Lyric’s Special Projects Advisor. Among her many projects have been the world premiere of Bel Canto, the Chicago Voices Gala, The Second City Guide to the Opera, and serving as advisor for the Ryan Opera Center.
One of the most beloved and celebrated singers of our time, Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. Her stature in American culture was fittingly recognized in 2013 when, in a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts, our nation’s highest honor for an individual artist.
A favorite at the world’s most prestigious opera, concert, and recital venues, Fleming brought her voice to a vast new audience in 2014, as the first classical artist to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl. As a musical ambassador, Fleming has performed at distinguished occasions around the world, from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo to the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II. In January 2009, she was featured in the televised We Are One: The Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama. A groundbreaking distinction came in 2008 when Fleming became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening-night gala.
In June, 2019, Fleming made her London musical theater debut as Margaret in the Tony-winning The Light in the Piazza, subsequently bringing her lauded portrayal to Los Angeles and to Lyric Opera of Chicago. In April, Fleming appeared opposite actor Ben Whishaw in Norma Jean Baker of Troy to open The Shed at Hudson Yards in New York City.
Fleming made her Broadway musical debut in Carousel, earning a Tony Award nomination. Also during 2016/17 she brought her acclaimed portrayal of the Marschallin/Der Rosenkavalier to London’s Royal Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera in Robert Carsen’s new production (a portrayal subsequently released on DVD).
In a rare doubleheader for a classical singer, Fleming was featured on the soundtrack of two Best Picture and Best Soundtrack nominees at the 2018 Academy Awards, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water (the latter won both prizes). She was also recently heard as the singing voice of Roxane Coss (Julianne Moore) in the film of Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel Bel Canto, which was also the inspiration for the opera of the same name, the creation of which Fleming curated for its world premiere here at Lyric during the 2014/15 season.
A 16-time Grammy nominee and four-time winner, Fleming has recorded everything from complete operas and song recitals to jazz, indie rock, and the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Her 2009 album Signatures was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry as an “aural treasure worthy of preservation as part of America’s patrimony.” Her most recent album, Renée Fleming: Broadway, features great musical-theater songs from the 1920s to the present day. In 2015, Fleming was featured with Yo-Yo Ma on the Billy Childs album, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro (their track, “New York Tendaberry,” won the Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals). Her first-ever holiday album, Christmas in New York, released in 2014, inspired a special on PBS. Fleming won the 2013 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy for Poèmes, a collection of 20th-century French music.
In January, Fleming launched SongStudio at Carnegie Hall, a new program for young vocalists, dedicated to the art of the vocal recital. Since 2015, the soprano has served as a distinguished visiting artist at her alma mater, the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (New York). She is currently artistic advisor for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is also an artistic advisor to the Polyphony Foundation, which brings together Arab and Jewish children in Israel for the study and performance of classical music. Fleming is a board member of Sing for Hope, a New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to creating regular and affordable access to high-quality arts programming. Inspired by the Sound Health initiative she spearheads at the Kennedy Center, Fleming has created a presentation exploring the power of music as it relates to health and the brain, “Music and the Mind,” which she has presented across North America.