Renée Fleming takes artistic consulting position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago

December 09, 2010

Renee Fleming, the Lyric Opera of Chicago's new creative consultant, with music director Sir Andrew Davis and general director William Mason. Photo: Dan Rest

Renée Fleming has been named creative consultant to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a role in which she will exercise artistic influence, increase her appearances at the Chicago company, and, undoubtedly it is hoped, provide the glamour and starpower to keep donations and contributions flowing in an economically troubled time for the arts.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon on the stage of the Civic Opera House with general director William Mason and music director Sir Andrew Davis, Fleming said that she looked forward to tackling her new role.

In remarks that kept close to the releases handed out to select media before the event, Fleming said that her “passion for this art form and [her] desire to contribute run equally high.”

As part of Fleming’s new position, which became effective immediately, she will

—help in “curating” a new opera that will be given its world premiere in the 2015-2016 season

—collaborate with other Chicago arts institutions to “send a special message about the strength of culture in Chicago.”

—work on the Lyric’s new “annual commitment” to American musical theater, which will commence with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma in the spring of 2013.

—expand educational activities including a joint program with the Merit School of Music.

Most importantly for local audineces, Fleming who has not appeared in an opera in Chicago since La Traviata in 2008, will increase her artistic profile here.

In addition to this Sunday afternoon’s subscriber appreciation recital, in the spring of 2013 she will appear as Blanche DuBois in “semi-staged” concert performances of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, written for her by the composer.

She will also appear as the Countess in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio in the fall of 2014, in addition to a duo recital honoring Mason with Dmitri Hvorostovsky on Jan. 7, 2012 and participate in Lyric’s 60th Anniversary Gala in 2014.

It is clearly hoped that the appointment of the popular soprano will provide some artistic continuity and keep the donations flowing after Mason retires as general director in 2012.

Fleming and Davis were also named vice presidents of the Lyric Opera’s board of directors Thursday.

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