Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?

Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 11:41am
After watching (and listening) to her sublime rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner", I think she'd make a fine and lovely Mrs. Anna. She wouldn't be the first opera singer to tackle the role.

"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
Updated On: 2/3/14 at 11:41 AM
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:06pm
She wouldn't? What others (in their prime) have? It's hardly a challenging soprano score, more a very light mezzo piece. It makes The Merry Widow look like Lulu.

Updated On: 2/3/14 at 12:06 PM
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:14pm
In terms of Opera singers who have played Anna --Rise Stevens did one of the revivals at Lincoln Center which she was pretty much 'in her prime' and Susan Graham is playing the role in Paris this year.

Updated On: 2/3/14 at 12:14 PM
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:15pm
Didn't Constance Towers train as an opera singer? If that counts.
#sadandtransparent
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:23pm
Well, Stevens and Graham were/are mezzos. Stevens played Anna in 1964 at the age of 50 (in the 60s, that was a pretty advanced age for opera singers). Graham is 53. Fleming is no youth (54 herself), but is still a full on legit soprano.

Towers may have had legit training, but I have never heard of any operatic career.

I suppose one could add some cheesy cadenzas for Graham, or have her do a bit of bizarre octave-leaping, but I don't see the score (or role) being a particularly good fit for her skills.

Now, if you want to revive Street Scene and use her as Anna Maurant, or Regina with her as an unusually healthy Birdie, I could see that making sense.
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:31pm
Newintown, I think when opera singers have played the role its been merely an instance of 'cross over' from an artist known in the opera world to the world of musical theater - and that is nothing new -- for many years New York City Opera, for example, included musical theater pieces in their repertoire and at one time or another had opera sopranos taking on alto or 'soubrette' material in the musical theater canon. Of course the vocal demands of musical theater are pretty slight compared to what most opera singers are capable of, but in no instance that I'm aware of were the scores of Stephen Sondheim or Rodgers and Hammerstein ever 'enhanced' to showcase the operatic prowess of these singers.

I could see someone like Rene Fleming wanting to do THE KING AND I as something outside of the world of opera -- perhaps to show she can speak lines on stage. She might be lovely.

Updated On: 2/3/14 at 12:31 PM
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:40pm
She will do a stage play at Williamstown this summer. Let's see how she is.

I think if it was a one night only thing she'd do it, but I cannot fathom Renee Fleming committing to an eight performance a week schedule for very long. (I don't know how many she's doing this summer.)
Updated On: 2/3/14 at 12:40 PM
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:56pm
Oh, I understand the history of opera singers doing musicals, Michael Bennett. But it's usually been either lower-tier performers, or those who were past their years of doing legit diva roles in opera, or on recording only (requiring much less of a time commitment).

I can't think of any A-list, still-active-in-opera divas who decamped to Broadway, except for Stratas, who was always an unusual gal, and who originated a new role, singing a score (Rags) that was tailored for her.

I would think Fleming would prefer to do the same, rather than slumming it in a vocally ultra-lite role in which she might be unfavorably compared to the legion of more experienced actresses who have polka-ed through the part.

I'm not trying to squelch anyone's idle speculations here, just supplying info that may not have been considered.
Updated On: 2/3/14 at 12:56 PM
jimmycurry01
Broadway Legend
joined:5/28/05
Rene Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 02:00pm
I know Flemming has a very good relationship with The Lyric Opera in Chicago, and they have committed themselves to doing all of Rodgers and Hammerstein's works over the next few years. If she were to be interested, I can see her taking on the role there, but that is not an eight show a week schedule. But I don't recall the OP ever mentioning anything about taking on a full Broadway contract; I believe it was only mentioned that it would be great to see her tackle the role.
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 03:07pm
Can you please add the second "e" to her name in the subject line?

It's "Renee" not "Rene."
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 03:19pm
I was going to say something, PJ, but you beat me to it.
adamgreer
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/05
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 03:39pm
Wasn't Paolo Szot an opera star before South Pacific?

I don't know much of anything about the opera world, so I'm genuinely asking.

Was it seen as "slumming" among the opera community when he did South Pacific for over a year?

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D2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/3/06
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 04:00pm
And Ezio Pinza before him.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 04:11pm
There are a a good number of men from the opera world who have done musical theatre, yes. (Although, again, most of them come to it toward the end of, if not after, their opera careers. Pinza retired entirely from opera before he moved on to theatre and film.)

I was only writing above about divas (and we can identify Traubel, Shirley Verett, etc., who had all either officially retired from opera or were pretty near to it before doing theatre).

And yes - to many in the opera world, musical theatre is, indeed, slumming. Remember, even Leonard Bernstein waited until his mentor Serge Koussevitzky, died before writing any theatre after On The Town, as Koussevitzky felt it was far beneath his talents.





Updated On: 2/3/14 at 04:11 PM
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 04:57pm
Well two examples that come immediately to mind -- Deborah Voigt doing ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at Glimmerglass a few years ago and Fredrica Von Stade who did a number of musicals at the height of her career at various opera companies.
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 05:09pm
Voigt played Annie Oakley? Original keys? That must have been interesting.

Von Stade, of course, is/was (like earlier mentioned gals) a mezzo, not a soprano. Anna Leonowens would be a good vocal match for her.
sondheimfan2
Leading Actor
joined:11/15/05
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 11:43pm
More info on her new comedy this summer.
Living on Love
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/4/14 at 12:13am
Renee Fleming is amazing, but her voice might be a little heavy for musical theatre. There are some recordings of her singing West Side Story and it was beautiful. But due to her heavier sound (and operatic diction) it didn't really sound "right" to me. I think the best crossover has been from the lighter sopranos.

Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Updated On: 2/4/14 at 12:13 AM
HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/4/14 at 01:06am
Oh God in heaven. What a dreadful idea. Let's try and keep Ms. Fleming as far away from musical theatre as possible. The diction alone. Oy.
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/4/14 at 07:33am
Before you make fun...remember these people are perfect on their own turf. That doesn't mean they're perfect in musical comedy.



Deborah Voigt in Annie Get Your Gun:

http://youtu.be/kNVs6FhIa_o



Renee Fleming and Josh Groban sing Brigadoon

http://youtu.be/tcBOizmUJ7I
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
AC126748
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/06
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/4/14 at 10:03am
Wasn't Paolo Szot an opera star before South Pacific?

If anything, Paulo Szot's appearance in SOUTH PACIFIC raised his profile in opera, at least in New York. He was sporadically getting work as a cover at the Met before he won the Tony. Since 2010, he's appeared every season, and in three new productions (including a house premiere).
"You travel alone because other people are only there to remind you how much that hook hurts that we all bit down on. Wait for that one day we can bite free and get back out there in space where we belong, sail back over water, over skies, into space, the hook finally out of our mouths and we wander back out there in space spawning to other planets never to return hurrah to earth and we'll look back and can't even see these lives here anymore. Only the taste of blood to remind us we ever existed. The earth is small. We're gone. We're dead. We're safe." -John Guare, Landscape of the Body
Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/4/14 at 06:05pm
I remember seeing Patrice Munsel in THE KING AND I many years ago and I don't remember where. A Music Fair productiuon? It was in-the-round.

"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
Updated On: 2/5/14 at 06:05 PM
fingerlakessinger
Broadway Legend
joined:11/18/10
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/5/14 at 02:47am
Okay, I'm pretty naive when it comes to some things. Can someone explain to me why Broadway is seen as "lower class" compared to Opera in the eyes of Opera singers? I know they are similar in some ways but VERY different in others. Is there really hostility between the two?
"Life in theater is give and take...but you need to be ready to give more then you take..."
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/5/14 at 03:06am
There are some in the opera world who view musical theatre as a lower-class, popular entertainment, as opposed to opera where the perception is high art for the elite. It would be similar to those who look down on big Hollywood blockbusters and praise small independent cinema.

From my own experience working in both worlds it's a minority viewpoint amongst the artists, but one you'll find more amongst the patrons (if somebody describes themselves as a "patron" as opposed to an "audience member" that is the first clue that they will probably be taking the elitist stance). For some it is an elitist type of stance, but for others it's just the fact that most of the musical styles you find in musical theatre just don't appeal to them, the same way some fans of musical theatre just can't get into the musical styles employed in the operatic world.

And honestly I see more snubbing of the nose from musical fans when looking towards opera as opposed to the other way around.
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fingerlakessinger
Broadway Legend
joined:11/18/10
Renee Fleming in THE KING AND I?
Posted: 2/5/14 at 03:47am
Oh! Thank you for the clarification. I've never seen it from either side, but being in upstate NY, there is not a lot of Opera. So its kind of hard to gage anything between the two.
"Life in theater is give and take...but you need to be ready to give more then you take..."