Acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming drew four standing ovations during her performance last night in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium. More than 900 fans attended the show, the 2017-18 Philharmonic Celebrity Series opener.
“It was a remarkable evening,” said Director Kevin Bartram. “One of the very best performances the Philharmonic has ever produced.”
Fleming, a four-time Grammy Award-winning artist and a former member of the Metropolitan Opera, sang a set of Italian arias, a Broadway set featuring The Sound of Music and The King and I, and the challenging Strauss’ Last Four Songs, a staple of her repertoire that is tricky to align with an orchestra, Bartram said.
“This was one of our most difficult shows, not only because it featured a wide range of repertoire but also because it was so early in the season,” he said of the orchestra, which performed Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite, Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Overture from The Pirates of Penzance.
“Ms. Fleming was wonderful to work with, very gracious and professional, one of the great voices in the world,” Bartram said. “What an honor to share the stage with her.”
During a talk she presented in Dodd the previous day, Fleming spoke of music’s impact on the human memory and psyche. “We think of music as entertainment, she said, but really it’s a part of all of our lives.”
UMW’s Philharmonic Orchestra prides itself on bolstering the liberal arts through music and community outreach. The annual Celebrity Series features renowned artists from around the world, with this year’s 14th annual event drawing record-breaking funding from supporters.
In return, Fleming treated last night’s audience to three encores, including I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady and O mio babbino caro, a favorite of the crowd, which included actress and performer Sally Struthers.
“I would have gone around the world to hear this concert,” Struthers said. “What a masterful job of putting this group of students and community members together for a concert with one of the great artists of the world. Incredible.”