Like other reviewers here, I had my reservations about this album. Time and again, opera singers have tried adapting their voices to other styles, and most crash and burn horribly; but Renee Fleming's 2005 album 'Haunted Heart' is the exception to the rule.
Here, Ms Fleming lays her soul bare, sharing a style of lyrical jazz that she is effortlessly suited to. Her voice seems to float through and inhabit these songs. In the liner notes to the album, Fleming says that this is the kind of repertoire she would have specialised in, had a glittering career in opera not beckoned first. Whether she is emoting through "Tosca" or crooning "River", Fleming displays why she is one of the greatest performers of her generation. I love opera, but I'm also a sucker for smooth, emotionally-grabbing jazz like this.
To those reviewers who would have Fleming pegged into one category for the rest of her life, I say get a grip. Unlike a lot of opera performers, Fleming can successfully dip into other genres, and it would be a crime to try restricting her. More power to you, Renee!
The first reaction to an album such as this HAUNTED HEART venture by the current Diva of the opera and recital stage Renée Fleming is one of pessimism: why do opera singers feel the need to enter the pops field? Well, remember Helen Traubel? While she was the reigning Wagnerian soprano at the Met she visited clubs and sang popular music and suffered the wrath of Rudolf Bing! So why, we ask, is Renée Fleming taking this same risk? Well, in the case of this recording and with … more
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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While countless fans flock to see soprano Renee Fleming's performances of the Countess inThe Marriage of Figarobecause she's got the voice and the dramatic ability to handle such meaty roles, the versatile singer throws her fans a curveball onHaunted Heart, singing popular standards and ballads as well as a few altered classical pieces. In her liner notes, Fleming calls this album a "look back at the road not taken" -- she played a weekly gig in a jazz club while in school. Nonetheless, her feel for the material here is undeniable. Interestingly, she drops her voice a full octave from her usual tessitura, and the change reveals a robust gospel-oriented approach filled with dramatic breaths and moans. The lyrical Fred Hersch (piano) and the idiosyncratic Bill Frisell (guitar) provide support, and both are adventurous jazz players who create subtle and uniquely haunting backdrops. It adds up to an interesting cross-section of ideas well carried off by the generous talents of all involved. --Tad Hendrickson