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Bel Canto

3.9 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Renée Fleming - Bel Canto Scenes
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Audio CD, August 27, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

FLEMING RENEE BEL CANTO

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Surely Renée Fleming's soprano must be one of the most beautiful voices before the public today. Though renowned for her interpretations of Mozart, Strauss, and Verdi, as well as for her commitment to contemporary music, she says that the bel canto repertoire has always been central to her career. On this recording, which features scenes and arias from operas by Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, she proves that she has achieved total, effortless technical mastery of the uniquely difficult vocal writing characteristic of the style. Every note is perfectly placed. Her runs, including scales over a huge range in both directions, are as clear and evenly paced as a chain of exquisite pearls. Her leaps always land in the center of the pitch. Her intonation is flawless.

Fleming also displays her emotional affinity for the drama, pathos, and lyricism of the music and her ability to identify with her larger-than-life heroines. Chosen from familiar and unfamiliar operas, the music is beguilingly beautiful, ranging from peacefully pastoral to darkly menacing. However, some listeners may feel that Fleming's tendency to overinflect, overphrase, make long pauses, and put swells on long notes, especially in the slow arias, undercuts the music's simplicity and the directness of her expressive communication. The performances are based on the latest scholarly research into the "bel canto" style regarding historically correct ornamentation (only in repeats) and the problems of balancing textual fidelity with imaginative freedom. The Orchestra of St. Luke's gives splendid support, with outstanding solos, especially from the winds. --Edith Eisler

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Product Details

  • Performer: Renée Fleming, Kristine Jepson, Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
  • Orchestra: Orchestra of St. Luke's
  • Conductor: Patrick Summers
  • Composer: Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, Gioachino Rossini
  • Audio CD (August 27, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • ASIN: B00006589U
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,175 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
i just wanted to point out that i too, a lot of times, think that renee fleming can be affected and insincere with her vocalism. but in this repertoire, i believe that is more appropriate. this is a playful type of singing that allows for more creative licensure and self-expression.
and as far as rubato goes and slowing of pace during the cabalettas, most larger voice sopranos have to slow this type of music because, more often than not, bigger voices just don't move as quickly. i personally don't think her high notes are screeching either. they are full voiced, strong, and sustained.
and i think her trills are glorious: the best since sutherland.
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By A Customer on August 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I purchased this CD early when it was released in France in June, and it has become my absolute favorite Renee Fleming CD, as well as my favorite CD of any soprano...period. This recording captures the essence of what has made Fleming the singer of the ages that she is...stunning breath control, a super-smooth, creamy tone, an amazing vocal range, and the unmatched ability to mold and shape phrases effortlessly. Some complain about her vocal "mannerisms," but I call it intelligent personality. In any case, such "mannerisms" have never been more tastefully done as in this recording, and I believe that all will agree what a historic accomplishment it is. With this CD, Renee Fleming has truly brought herself to the next level of opera singing, if that's even possible, to truly be among the greats...Tebaldi, Callas, Caballe. After so long of darkness, she has revived the light that is "Bel Canto." In general, Renee Fleming is probably one of the most technically sound singers of all time. No one currently can match her ability to control the voice as assuredly as she does, however she wants to do so. I respect the risk that she takes in inputting various "interpretations" into the music: this shows guts and brilliance, whether one agrees with her interpretation or not. Regardless, she remains a singer of phenomenal gifts, and we must come to appreciate the blessings of her existence during our lifetimes, as a singer of her caliber only comes around once in a lifetime. Here is a brief review of each scene:
La Sonnambula: Fleming's singing here is nearly flawless, ranks among the best Sonnambulas that I've ever heard live or on CD.
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Format: Audio CD
I've been an opera-goer for 40 years. I heard Sutherland, Sills and even Tebaldi. I never thought that the Golden Age would one day return but it did! Renee Fleming has a big, luscious lyric voice. The suggestion that she should do Turandot is stupid, if she does this opera and she will do Liu. But she isn't made for the war-horses. Who needs the 1556868563 recording of La Traviata or Turandot? She recorded neglected masterpieces like Donizetti's Rosmonda, Massenet's Thais, then there is her glorious Rusalka... And her Strauss&Mozart interpretations will send you to heaven! Hers is the most beautiful voice today. I can only laugh at those green youngsters who call this sweet lady (I had the honour to meet her) mannered or even evil. She is the new Queen of opera!
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By A Customer on May 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This is Bel Canto at its finest! Beautiful, haunting and moving! I love Renee, she's gorgeous, very talented and the best soprano I ever heard!
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Format: Audio CD
I wonder why this person keeps posting the same malicious reviews over and over. I didn't listen to his garbage and bought this CD. I was floored. This woman is singing her heart out, absolutely beautiful. America has a leading primadonna, hail Renee Fleming!
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By A Customer on June 1, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The Queen of bel canto remain undisputely Dame Joan Sutherland. But the young Fleming may be her successor.
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Format: Audio CD
Judging from other reviews, Renee Fleming's release BEL CANTO is causing quite uproar. People either love it, or hate it. Those who dislike it most seem to be offended that Ms. Fleming is put in the same category as Sutherland, Sills, or Callas. This is probably a bit unfair. First of all, most opera buffs tend to follow a grandparent rule, namely we reject the parents and love the grandparents. So it is quite natural for many people to hold current singers in distain while praising the virtues of previous generations. Keep in mind that Callas, Sutherland, and Sills were not always highly regarded in their day as they are today. It would not be all that surprising if in a few years, people at this same site will want to return to the great yesterdays when we had stars such as Renee Fleming.
If we compare this disc to those from past divas, listeners may believe that something is missing. Many of the ornamentations that stars of yesteryear put on pieces are missing from Fleming's disc. Her interpretation is technically correct, but the lack of "Prima Donna" ornamentation does make the recording somewhat flat. Musically, Fleming strives for authenticity and this is something she achieves rather well. Many of the pieces are not familiar to the general opera lover, so it piques a listener's interest. The Orchestra of St. Luke's has a lush sound and is well conducted by Patrick Summers.
This is not my favorite Renee Fleming recording, but it does demonstrate her musical ability and I am glad to have it in my collection. I might not recommend it to a person who enjoys "opera's greatest hits collections" (though these are fun to listen to while driving), but opera lovers should enjoy this compilation.
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