Fleming has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano repertoires. She has sung roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She also speaks fluent German and French, along with limited Italian. Her signature roles include Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka, the title role in Massenet's Manon, the title role in Massenet's Thaïs, and the Marschallin in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and the title heroine in Arabella.
Early life and education
She studied with Pat Misslin at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam. While at SUNY Potsdam, she took up singing with a jazz trio in an off-campus bar called Alger's. The jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet invited her on tour with his big band, but she chose instead to continue with graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY with voice teacher Jan DeGaetani.
She won a Fulbright Scholarship, which enabled her to work in Europe with Arleen Augér and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. This was followed by further studies at The Juilliard School. While at Juilliard she sang in roles with the Juilliard Opera Center, appearing as Musetta in Puccini's La boheme and the Wife in Menotti's Tamu-Tamu, among others.
1980s to 1990s
Fleming first began performing professionally in smaller concerts and with small opera companies while still a graduate student at Juilliard. She sang frequently in the Musica Viva concert series sponsored by the New York Unitarian Church of All Souls during the 1980s. In 1984 she sang nine songs by Hugo Wolf in the world premiere of Eliot Feld's ballet Adieu, which she again performed in 1987 and 1989 at the Joyce Theater. In 1986 she sang her first major operatic role, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, at the Salzburg Landestheater. Two years later she portrayed Thalie, Clarine and La Folie in Jean-Philippe Rameau's Platée with the Piccolo Teatro Dell Opera.
Fleming's first major break came in 1988 when she won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions at age 29. That same year she sang the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro in her debut with Houston Grand Opera. She reprised the role the following year in her debut at the Spoleto Festival. Also in 1989, Fleming made her debut with the New York City Opera as Mimi in La Bohème and her debut with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden as Dirce in Cherubini's Médée. She also was awarded a Richard Tucker Career Grant and won the George London Competition.
In 1990 she was once again honored by the Richard Tucker Music Foundation but this time with the highly coveted Richard Tucker Award. That same year she made her debut with Seattle Opera in her first portrayal of the title role in Rusalka, a role that she has since recorded and reprised at many of the world's great opera houses. She also sang for the 50th Anniversary of the American Ballet Theater in their production of Eliot Feld's Les Noces and returned to the New York City Opera to sing both the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Micaela in Bizet's Carmen. In addition, she sang the title role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
In 1991, Fleming made her Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera debut portraying Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Fleming was originally not scheduled to make her Met debut until the next season, but ended up making it earlier than expected by stepping into replace Felicity Lott who had become ill. She returned to the Met later that year to sing Rosina in the world premiere of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. That same year she made her Carnegie Hall debut performing music by Ravel with the New York City Opera Orchestra, sang Rusalka with Houston Grand Opera, and made her debut at the Tanglewood Festival as Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
In 1992, Fleming made her debut with Grand Théâtre de Genève as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte. She also sang the role of Anna in François Adrien Boieldieu's La dame blanche at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York and the role of Fortuna in Mozart's Il sogno di Scipione at Alice Tully Hall, as part of Lincoln Center's Festival of Mozart Operas in Concert.
In 1993, Fleming sang the role of Alaide in Bellini's La straniera with the Opera Orchestra of New York, made her debut at the Rossini Festival in the title role of Rossini's Armida, and her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the title role of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah. She also gave her New York City solo recital debut at Alice Tully Hall to great acclaim. She also sang her first Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera and performed Berg's Lulu with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and James Levine. She also sang the world premiere of Joan Tower's Fanfare with Pinchas Zukerman and the Aspen Chamber Symphony and the world premiere of John Kander's Letter From Sullivan Ballou at the Richard Tucker Awards ceremony.
In 1994, Fleming sang her first Desdemona in Verdi's Otello and her first Ellen Orford in Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes with the Metropolitan Opera. She also made her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She also performed the role of Madame de Tourvel in the world premiere of Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons and sang the role of Salome in Massenet's Hérodiade with the San Francisco Opera.
In 1995 Fleming portrayed the role of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier with Houston Grand Opera, sang Hérodiade with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall, and sang Rusalka with the San Francisco Opera. She also sang Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Solti at Royal Festival Hall and gave a lauded recital at the Morgan Library. She further signed an exclusive recording contract with the London/Decca label, making her the first American singer in 31 years to do so (Marilyn Horne was the last).
In 1996, Fleming sang the title role in Rossini's Armida and the role of Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Met and performed the soprano solos in the Verdi Requiem with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. She also sang her first Marguerite in Gounod's Faust with Chicago Lyric Opera and sang the role of Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opéra National de Paris at the reopening of the Palais Garnier with Sir Georg Solti. She was also chosen by Solti to be the first recipient of the Solti Prize, to be given to an outstanding younger singer. The award is given by the Academie du Disque Lyrique in a ceremony equivalent to the Grammy Awards. Fleming also made debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Eva in Wagner's Meistersinger. Her other performances that year included recitals at the Edinburgh International Festival and at Alice Tully Hall.
In 1997, Fleming portrayed the Marschallin in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and her first Manon at the Opéra Bastille, receiving glowing reviews. She reprised the role at the Metropolitan Opera along with singing Marguerite in Faust and Rusalka. She also performed in concert twice with the New York Philharmonic, first under the baton of Zubin Mehta performing a selection of opera arias, and second singing Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate and three songs of Richard Strauss with Kurt Masur. She also performed at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony and performed Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Orchestra of St. Luke's under André Previn. She gave several recitals as well at such notable places as the Salzburg Festival.
In 1998, Fleming sang the title role in Richard Strauss' Arabella with Houston Grand Opera and the Countess with Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also sang the title role in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah and Countess Almaviva in a landmark production of Le nozze di Figaro at the Met. The Mozart production also starred Cecilia Bartoli, Susanne Mentzer, Dwayne Croft, Danielle de Niese, and Bryn Terfel and was broadcast on PBS' Great Performances. She also made her Carnegie Hall recital debut. She also sang Richard Strauss's Death and Transfiguration and The Four Last Songs with Claudio Abbado and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival. She also originated the roles of Blanche DuBois in the world première André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire with the San Francisco Opera. Fleming also performed Strauss' Four Last Songs with the Berlin Philharmonic.
In 1999, Fleming appeared at the Bavarian State Opera as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She returned to Carnegie Hall to great success with a concert of German lieder. She also performed in recital with André Previn and made her debut at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. She also won a Grammy Award for her CD ''The Beautiful Voice. She also performed the title role in Handel's Alcina with Les Arts Florissants and conductor William Christie and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also sang the title role in Charpentier's Louise with San Francisco Opera and Theatre du Capitole. Fleming closed out the year by performing for President Bill Clinton at the White House for a Christmas celebration.
In 2000, Fleming appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and at Covent Garden as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and sang the title role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with the Opera Orchestra of New York. She also appeared as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival and the Met. She performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, under Mark Elder as part of the PBS series Live From Lincoln Center and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Haydn's Creation under James Levine.
In 2001, Fleming sang Desdemona in Otello with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Manon with the Opéra National de Paris, the Marschallin with both the San Francisco Opera and the Met, and Arabella at both the Bavarian State Opera and the Met. She also sang Verdi's Requiem twice, once with the London Symphony Orchestra and once with the New York Philharmonic.
In 2002, Fleming provided the vocals for Howard Shore's soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack. Her singing can be found in the songs "The End of All Things", "Twilight and Shadow" and "The Return of the King" (Original Soundtrack) and "The Grace Of Undómiel", "Mount Doom", "The Eagles" and "The Fellowship Reunited" (The Complete Recordings). She also sang in several concerts in the United Kingdom with Bryn Terfel and gave the most extensive recital tour of her career, singing in dozens of recitals with accompianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. In addition, she portrayed the role of Rusalka with Opéra Bastille and Imogene in Il Pirata with Théâtre du Châtelet.
In 2003, Fleming sang Imogene in at the Met, the title role in Jules Massenet's Thaïs (opera) with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Rusalka at Covent Garden, and Violetta in La Traviata with both Houston Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. She also reprised the role of Blanche in Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire at the Barbican Centre in London.
In 2004, Fleming portrayed the title role in Handel's Rodelinda, and reprised the roles of Rusalka and Violetta at the Met. She also sang her first die Gräfin (the Countess) in Capriccio at the Palais Garnier and performed in concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra among others. She also gave recitals in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and the United States and performed in several concerts with Elton John at Radio City Music Hall.
In 2005, Fleming sang the title role in Jules Massenet's Manon at the Met, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello at Covent Garden, and Thaïs in Vienna. She also performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir among several other ensembles.
In 2006, Fleming performed a solo concert at the Lyric Opera of Chicago with Sir Andrew Davis, sang Violetta in Verdi's La traviata with Los Angeles Opera, and returned to the Met to sing Manon and Rodelinda. She also sang Violetta again in the Metropolitan Opera's touring production to Japan and gave several recitals and concerts throughout the United States, Italy, Russia, and Sweden. She also sang in the Vienna Philharmonic's concert celebrating Mozart's 250th Birthday which was broadcast live internationally.
In 2007, Fleming sang Violetta with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin at the Metropolitan Opera, Arabella with Zurich Opera, and Thaïs at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Royal Opera, Vienna State Opera, and the Liceu. She also performed with over a dozen orchestras including the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra,the National Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the China Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic among others, and performed at numerous music festivals including the Salzburg Festival and the Lincoln Center Festival. She also gave recitals throughout Southeast Asia, Germany, and Switzerland.
In 2008, Fleming sang Violetta and Desdemona at the Metropolitan Opera, die Gräfin in Capriccio at the Vienna State Opera, Tatyana at the Tanglewood Festival, and Lucrezia Borgia at the Washington National Opera.
In 2009, Fleming created the complete version of Le Temps L'Horloge, the latest work of famous French composer Henri Dutilleux. She sang Violetta at Covent Garden and Thaïs and Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, the Marschallin at the Baden Baden Festival, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Metropolitan Opera. She sang a variety of short pieces at Napa Valley's Festival Del Sole in California.
During the 2009-2010 Metropolitan Opera season Fleming will sing the Marschallin and in Mary Zimmerman's new production, the first at the Met, of Rossini's Armida, a role and production she will return to during the Met's 2010-2011 Season along with die Gräfin in Strauss's "Capriccio".
Fleming has expressed her support for same-sex marriage to an LGBT rights website, stating “I believe that marriage should be recognized as a... union of two individuals who care deeply for each other and wish to share their lives with each other." 
Fleming has released a number of music recordings on the Decca label, which is part of the Universal Music Group. She recorded a jazz album in 2005 entitled Haunted Heart. She also appears on the soundtrack of the 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in which she sings in the imagined language Sindarin. Her voice, along with those of Isabel Bayrakdarian and Sheila Chandra are considered musically representative of Arwen, and by extension the Elves. Her singing is heard when Arwen sees a vision of her child (cue: Twilight & Shadow), when Gandalf confronts the Nazgûl at Minas Tirith, when Gollum first holds the Ring (cue: The End of All Things), when the eagles carry Frodo and Sam off Mt. Doom (cue: 'The Eagles' from The End of All Things) and when Arwen is revealed at Aragorn's coronation (cue: 'Arwen Revealed' from The Return of The King). Renee Fleming also recorded the duet "O soave fanciulla" with Michael Bolton. Her album Dark Hope, to be released in June 2010, features covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, Band of Horses, Jefferson Airplane and others..
TV, radio and record guest appearances
Fleming has a notable sense of humor. She appeared on the children's show Sesame Street singing a lively rendition of "Caro nome" from Rigoletto, replacing the traditional Italian text with lyrics intended to aid children learning to count.
Fleming performed "I'll Be Home For Christmas" on ABC's The View on December 18, 2008.
She performed on January 18, 2009 at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, singing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic "You'll Never Walk Alone" with the combined choirs of the United States Naval Academy.
|1978||Laurie Moss||Aaron Copland||The Tender Land||Crane School of Music - SUNY Potsdam|
|1979||Alison (wife)||Gustav Holst||The Wandering Scholar||Crane School of Music - SUNY Potsdam|
|1980||Elsie Maynard||Gilbert & Sullivan||The Yeomen of the Guard||Crane School of Music - SUNY Potsdam|
|1981||Zerlina||Mozart||Don Giovanni||Eastman School|
|1982||Anne Sexton||Conrad Susa||Transformations||Aspen Music Festival & School|
|1983||Countess Almaviva||Mozart||Le Nozze di Figaro||Aspen Music Festival & School|
|1983||Musetta||Puccini||La Boheme||Juilliard Opera Center|
|1986||Konstanze||Mozart||Die Entführung aus dem Serail||Salzburg Landestheather|
|1986||Belle Fezziwig, Martha Cratchit, Laundress, Rosie||Thea Musgave||A Christman Carol, The Opera||Virginia Opera|
|1987||the Wife||Menotti||Tamu Tamu||Juilliard Opera Center|
|1988||Thalie, Clarine, La Folie||Jean-Philippe Rameau||Platée||Piccolo Teatro Dell Opera|
|1988||Pamina||Mozart||Die Zauberflöte||Virginia Opera|
|1989||Mimi||Puccini||La Boheme||New York City Opera|
|1989||Dirce||Cherubini||Médée||Royal Opera at Covent Garden|
|1989||Imogene||Bellini||Il Pirata||Opera Orchestra of New York|
|1990||Micaela||Bizet||Carmen||New York City Opera|
|1990||Lucrezia Borgia||Donizetti||Lucrezia Borgia||Opera Orchestra of New York|
|1990||Maria Padilla||Donizetti||Maria Padilla||Omaha Opera|
|1991||Rosina||Corigliano||The Ghosts of Versailles||Metropolitan Opera|
|1991||Amina||Bellini||La Sonnambula||Carnegie Hall|
|1991||Thaïs||Massenet||Thaïs||Washington Concert Opera|
|1991||Sandrina||Mozart||La Finta Giardiniera||Paris, Salle Pleyel|
|1992||La Contessa di Folleville||Rossini||Il Viaggio a Reims||Royal Opera at Covent Garden|
|1992||Fiordiligi||Mozart||Così fan tutte||Grand Théâtre de Genève|
|1992||Anna||Boieldieu||La dame blanche||Carnegie Hall|
|1992||Fortuna||Mozart||Il sogno di Scipione||Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center|
|1992||Tatyana||Tchaikovsky||Eugene Onegin||Dallas Opera|
|1993||Armida||Rossini||Armida||Pesaro, Rossini Festival|
|1993||Donna Elvira||Mozart||Don Giovanni||La Scala|
|1993||Alaide||Bellini||La Straniera||Carnegie Hall|
|1993||Susannah||Floyd||Susannah||Lyric Opera of Chicago|
|1993||Lulu||Alban Berg||Symphonic Pieces from Lulu||Metropolitan Concert/Gala at Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|1993||Jenůfa||Leoš Janáček||Jenůfa||Dallas Opera|
|1994||Ellen Orford||Britten||Peter Grimes||Metropolitan Opera|
|1994||Madame de Tourvel||Conrad Susa||The Dangerous Liaisons||San Francisco Opera|
|1994||Salome||Massenet||Hérodiade||San Francisco Opera|
|1994||Rosmonda Clifford||Donizetti||Rosmonda d'Inghilterra||Opera Rara|
|1995||Marschallin||R. Strauss||Der Rosenkavalier||Houston Grand Opera|
|1995||Amelia||Verdi||Simone Boccanegra||Royal Opera at Covent Garden|
|1996||Marguerite||Gounod||Faust||Lyric Opera of Chicago|
|1996||Donna Anna||Mozart||Don Giovanni||Opéra National de Paris|
|1996||Eva||Wagner||Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg||Bayreuth Festival|
|1998||Arabella||R. Strauss||Arabella||Houston Grand Opera|
|1998||Blanche DuBois||André Previn||A Streetcar named Desire||San Francisco Opera|
|1999||Lousie||Charpentier||Louise||San Francisco Opera|
|2003||Violetta||Verdi||La Traviata||Houston Grand Opera|
|2004||die Gräfin||R. Strauss||Capriccio||Palais Garnier|
|2005||Daphne||R. Strauss||Daphne||University of Michigan|
- Donizetti: Rosmonda d'Inghilterra Opera Rara 1994
- Strauss Four Last Songs RCA 1996
- Visions of Love - Mozart Arias Decca 1996
- Schubert Lieder Decca 1997
- Signatures Opera arias By Mozart, Verdi, Britten, Strauss, w. Georg Solti, Decca 1997
- Elijah (Mendelssohn) Decca 1997
- The Beautiful Voice Decca 1998
- I Want Magic American Opera Arias, Decca 1998
- Star Crossed Lovers Duets with Plácido Domingo, Decca 1999
- Strauss Heroines Decca 1999
- Requiem (Verdi) with Olga Borodina and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, conducted by Valery Gergiev, Philips 2001
- Renée Fleming Decca 2001
- Night Songs Lieder by Debussy, Fauré, Marx, Strauss, Rachmaninov, Decca 2001
- Bel Canto Arias by Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini, Decca 2002
- Under the Stars Broadway Duets with Bryn Terfel, Decca 2003
- By Request Decca 2003
- Mozart: Cosi fan tutte Decca
- Handel: Alcina Erato
- Rossini: Armida Sony (live)
- Mozart: Don Giovanni Decca (CD)
- Massenet: Herodiade Sont (live)
- Handel Arias Decca 2003/2004
- Requiem (Verdi) Philips 2004
- Haunted Heart Decca 2005
- Sacred Songs Decca 2005
- Homage - The Age of the Diva Decca 2006
- Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss Decca 2008
- "Verismo - Aries of Puccini, Mascagni,Cilea, Giordano, Leoncavallo" Decca 2009
- Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin Decca 2007 (DVD)
- Strauss, R: Arabella Decca 2008 (DVD)
- Verdi: La traviata Decca (DVD)
- Mozart: Don Giovanni (DVD)
- Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro (DVD)
- Massenet: Manon (DVD)
- Strauss, R: Daphne Decca
- Strauss, R: Arabella Decca
- Strauss, R: Der Rosenkavalier Decca
- Strauss, R: Capriccio Decca
- Verdi: Otello (DVD)
- Dvořák: Rusalka Decca
- Massenet: Thaïs Decca
- Metropolitan Opera: The Audition (DVD)
- NYT September 14, 1997
- New York Times 1983
- New York Times April 26, 1987
- NYT February 19, 1994
- New York Times April 16, 1984
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- NYT May 21, 2000
- The Epoch Times, September 2006
- Coming Full Circle - The Washington Blade
- NYT November 3, 1998
- , Peter Conrad, The Guardian, March 28, 2010
- Renée+Fleming%22&st=nyt NYT December 22, 1999
- Fleming, Renée. The Inner Voice: the Making of a Singer. Paperback ed. New York: Penguin Group, 2004. ISBN 9780143035947
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