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March 2, 2008

Flyoverville: You've Got to Start Somewhere

John Stoehr

renee_fleming3.jpg

Jeff Day, at The State newspaper (in Columbia, S.C.), reminds us that Renee Fleming, at the top of her game as the Met's leading opera diva, got her start at Spoleto. His article today also serves as a reminder that artists of Fleming's caliber had to start somewhere. In fact, Fleming graduated from the same small New York state school that I did: The Crane School of Music at SUNY College at Potsdam. She eventually went on the Eastman, as many Crane graduates did. Before being taken on the Metropolitan Opera, she gigged with Spoleto, just as many artists past and present have. Fleming is among opera's elite, but her journey took her to many out-of-the-way places outside of New York, London, and Milan.

In recent weeks, Renee Fleming, one of the biggest opera stars in the world, has been singing the role of the doomed Desdemona in the Metropolitan Opera's "Otello."

But 21 years ago, she was a young singer just starting out when she filled a supporting role in the opera "Platee" at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston. The opera was reviewed by The New York Times, but she wasn't even mentioned.

She was back at Spoleto in 1989, singing the role of the Countess in "The Marriage of Figaro," which she also performed at the Italian version of the festival.

That time she got noticed.

"Spoleto was actually my training ground," Fleming said in an interview from New York last week. "I spent three summers at the festival both in Charleston and Italy. It was a terrific experience -- I loved both places."

Full story . . .

Cross-posted from Unscripted.

Posted by John Stoehr at March 2, 2008 9:30 AM