Renee Fleming: By Request

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This is a compilation--plus three previously unreleased selections--of some of the glorious Ren¨¦e Fleming's finest work, 15 selections covering 13 composers. The rose-in-full-bloom quality of the voice is staggeringly beautiful: Her rendition of Rusalka's "Song to the Moon" is justly famous and is, alone, worth the price of this CD. Other highlights are Marietta's Lied from Korngold's Die tote stadt, an odd arrangement of the aria from Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5, Manon's Gavotte, and a knock-down-gorgeous reading of Gershwin's "Summertime." The three new recordings are of Violetta's big first-act scene from La traviata, which features one of the most perfect trills heard since Joan Sutherland, a thrilling C?cilie (R. Strauss), and a version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" which is so over the-top that it might make you look away in embarrassment. On the basis of this CD, one would have to acknowledge that Fleming is more interested in--and more successful at--pure singing than she is at character delineation (Butterfly sounds oddly like Wally who sounds too much like Norma), but it's not hard to tell why she's a superstar. Her voice and technique are one in a million. --Robert Levine

"by Request" is a Collection of Fleming's Greatest and Most Popular Recordings Including Works by Mozart, Bellini, Pucchini, Verdi and Dvorak. Featuring Recordings from Renee Fleming's Outstanding Decca Discography Together with Two Glorious Tracks Strauss "Cacilie" and Verdi's "la Traviata" a Role Fleming Performed to Critical Aclaim Earlier in 2003.

Customer Reviews:

  • Not all the arias were her best
    There is something lacking. Although most of these are indeed her "Best" releases, some things could have been left out. Her O Mio Babbino Caro and her Casta Diva weren't her best efforts at all. Casta Diva, sung to perfection by other revered artists, sounded too breathy and fearful here. It has good chest notes, and it is definitely better than Joan Sutherland's Norma though. Her O Mio Babbino Caro is the usual aria sung in its usual way, without leaving any trace of awe at an ability of a singer to interpret the aria. Rachmaninov's Vocalise was good, and it was great of Decca to release her Song to the Moon on this disc. However, some new additions weren't all that good as well. For example, if you listen to her excerpt from La Traviata, you will find that she sounds like she was singing jazz when uttering out "Gioir!". I think Decca should have issued the live performance version of this instead. That was so much better. Also, they should have showcased more of the bel canto repertoire she had specialized in. That would have made this CD a gem!...more info
  • Classical Music is not Jazz
    Fleming says she has a Jazz background. Now she is trying to do jazzy stuff to her La Traviata and everything else. It is very annoying. Come on, everybody knows she has a beautiful voice and can sing high notes and trill beautifully. That's not what people complain about....more info
  • Beautiful Renee!
    A great new CD! But where are the complete opera-recordings? She should make some! The Rusalka and the Thais were GREAT. So, more please! Brava!...more info
  • How can a voice be so beautiful?
    Some of these reviews actually use "arguments" like "Too much make up on the pic"... However ridiculous can it get? I had the honour of seeing Madame Fleming as Lucrezia Borgia at La Scala and she sang the most BEAUTIFUL "Come e bello" I ever heard. She has the drama, the beauty, the looks, the technique, the INCREDIBLE range above an F''' (A role Sills for example botched as Queen of the night, I saw her) and the richest middle since Caballe. There is a glow in her voice I never heard before. Long live America's new operatic goddess!...more info
  • New to opera
    The female voice is an instrument that is second to none and Renee knows how to play it.You might think you dont care for opera but pick and choose what you like off this cd with the help of the jacket insert containing the verses translated into english.Hear what is uplifting in a format and style in operatic composition."It ain't over till the fat lady sings", this woman breaks the sterotype....more info
  • Wonderful soprano!!
    If you love opera and love sopranos, then you will love this CD. Fleming's voice is magnificent!! It sounds creamy and smooth. "Casta Diva" and "Sempre Libera" are lovely. I am so happy for this purchase....more info
  • Get it for the "Sempre Libera"
    I only got this for her "¨¨ Strano...Ah, Fors'¨¨ Lui...Sempre Libera" and I was not disappointed. Of corse I had most of the CD's that this CD represented, but it encouraged me to go out and buy more. A wonderful introduction to opera, classical music, and Ms. Fleming....more info
  • Mannerisms?
    I did have some problems with the Bel Canto disc but here Fleming obviously held back and gave us beautiful pieces. What a luscious voice she has. That she can create such stupid hatred only shows how huge her impact can be. Be it positive or negative, you decide! But don't miss it! And don't be blinded by this guy calling himself "Theo Greek". The real Theo would never write such ignorant nonsense....more info
  • Will the real Renee Fleming please stand up (and sing) ?
    On the evidence of this disc, Renee Fleming is like the little girl in the old nursery rhyme. " When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid." This CD is a mixture of the beautiful, the dull, and the mediocre. Her Puccini is strangely lackluster. There must be a dozen more moving versions available of "O mio babbino caro" and "Un bel di". Her Violetta is downright poor. Part of the problem lies in the choice of items. Her singing of the Rachmaninov and the Villa-Lobos is pretty undistinguished, but neither of these does much for me anyway, however well-sung. Then there is "Summertime". Inevitably. Why does every soprano feel obliged to include this dreary song on every recital disc? "You'll never walk alone" is bad. Admittedly, this is Rogers and Hammerstein at their sickliest, but her version of "Hello, young lovers", a much better song (on her CD with Bryn Terfel, "Under the stars) is absolutely awful. Some opera singers can do "crossover" and sing Broadway and popular standards convincingly, but too many think they can when they can't. So why give this collection more than one star? Three tracks are worth the price of this disc and more. The excerpt from "Manon" is great, splendid music splendidly sung. The lovely Dvorak aria has been recorded dozens of times, but this is the best version I have ever heard. But the Korngold,"Marietta's Lied", is breathtaking.This is achingly beautiful singing of one of the most beautiful soprano arias ever written. Renee Fleming can sing like an angel when she makes wise musical and artistic choices, but can seem no more than ordinary when she does not. Both sides are shown on this CD....more info
  • Fantastic! Ignore the one-star bashers!
    One or two persons are posting one-star reviews in a row out of jealousy. Ignore them and listen to America's great primadonna: Renee Fleming! A voice like an angel!...more info
  • Go and Buy Renee Fleming's New 1995 Otello with the Met
    MY REVIEW FOR RENEE'S OTELLO, just release by DG -----

    I have just finished watching this stunning performance of Otello. The performance is so incredible that I feel absolutely compelled to write this review.

    The biggest glory of this set is the absolutely stunning portrayal of the moor Otello by Placido Domingo. I've never been a huge Domingo fan (although I certainly respect him greatly). I tend to think that he has his fingers in too many pies. But this performance has changed my view completely. Domingo is not only vocally in superb form, his intense dramatic portrayal is electrifying! He loses all self-consciousness on stage and becomes Otello - there is no hint that he even thinks he is singing in an opera, he is so absolutely consumed by the role. Every expression on his face is under his absolute control. This is one of the most gripping portrayal of an operatic character I've ever seen. In this performance, Domingo absolutely blasts everyone else away - Fleming, Morris, Croft....

    The second glory of this set is the absolutely ravishing soprano of Renee Fleming. Renee Fleming is also very much into her character. It is somewhat cruel to juxtapose Fleming's Desdemona with Domingo's towering Otello. Because you sense that Fleming's characterization is weaker than Domingo's. But that doesn't mean that Fleming cannot act - just that Domingo is simply too good in this role. In any case, Fleming's dramatic portrayal is also very intense - you feel and see her emotions and sorrow throughout the opera. She is a picture of chaste innocence in Act 1. In Act 2, her shock and grief are palpable. In Act 3, she gives Desdemona a somewhat stronger character than usual when Desdemona denies any marital infidelity. Her sorrow is heart-rending when Domingo accuses her of infidelity and finally, curses her at the end of Act 3. In Act 4, her Willow Song and prayer tugs at your heart strings. To top it all, Fleming's voice is absolutely ravishing. In some of her recent recordings, she has adopted some mannerisms. NOT SO DOWN HERE. She sings beautifully, and her singing projects her emotions but she does not overdo things nor does she engage in some of the somewhat irritating mannerisms of late.

    James Morris is an excellent Iago. He acts well but certainly falls a little short of Fleming's or Domingo's intensity. Nevertheless, he is vocally excellent.

    I like Cassio here. Not only is he really handsome, he is very much into his character and he is vocally in superb form.

    The set, by Elijah Moshinsky, captures the Shakespearen atmosphere superbly. It is the exact same set (with very minor changes) as the 1992 Convent Garden Otello with Solti, Domingo, Kanawa and Serkus. It is a fantastic set.

    James Levine's conducting is also superb. The tension never slacks and the drama keeps flowing.

    An exceptionally fantastic production from the Metropolitan opera.

    I've been following the recent Met releases - Fidelio with Karita Mattila and Ben Heppner, Tristan and Isolde with Jane Eaglen and Ben Heppner. And now this Otello with Domingo and Fleming. The Metropolitan Opera has really surpassed itself with all these 3 releases. They are all the best I've ever seen.

    The 1998 production of Samson Et Dalila with Domingo & Olga Borodina ia scheduled for release in June 2004. I'm looking forward to it.

    Also, the Met has actually videotaped Karita Mattila's stunning 2004 Salome. Because of lack of funding, it is stil waiting to be broadcast. But why wait? Every opera fan should WRITE IN TO THE MET and ASK THEM TO RELEASE IT IMMEDIATELY.

    Go to the Met Website and find their contact email, and WRITE IN AT ONCE to ask them to release this incredible 2004 Salome.

    In addition, The Met has videotaped the 2003 Ariadne Auf Naxos (Deborah Voigt) and the 2001 Wozzeck - all awaiting telecast due to lack of funding. Write in to tell them we want these on DVD. Show them our support.

    Yes, don't even think about not buying this DVD!! In fact don't even think about not buying the Met 2001 Fidelio or Met 1999 Tristan and Isolde. These are already classics!!!...more info

  • Well
    Suddenly critics are believeable in your opinion? Well, your beloved Sills' caricatures of an Aida, Michaela, Carmen (!), Thais and late screeching of belcanto (In the late years) were "lambasted" too. So what? What about Sills' MANNERED way of rewriting every line the composer wrote? Her Anna Bolena is filled with such "mannerisms", as is her Lucia. Some very severe critics called Sills' glassy voice FAKE, ugly, sour, screechy and many more harsh words. So what? I still love Sills. How about the fact that Sills' ornaments were as tacky as H*** but still fascinating to listen to? Give Fleming a chance, or if not, stop abusing her. That should even be below YOUR niveau!...more info
  • Mannered singing by overrated soprano
    Ren¨¦e Fleming sings a bad "Sempre libera" complete with mannerisms. Her "Casta diva" is too slow and studied. Her "Ne andr¨° lontana" is unidiomatic. She changes "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5" into a jazzy vocalise that is not appropriate. I don't even recognize Villa-Lobos writing for the voice in her version. I think she changed some of the vocal lines. If she did, shame on her....more info
  • How can people be so hateful?
    Reading through the malicious review posted by one and the same person I'm ashamed for him... One one-star review is bad enough, aren't those reserved for really crappy recitals? And he posts a bunch of them to tear down this new release! What a shame!...more info
  • The Best Of Renee Fleming: American Diva
    This album, released only recently in 2003-2004, compiles a great selection of Renee Fleming's greatest hits. For fans of the American diva, this is a real treat and a perfect addition to your collection. Renee Fleming has been singing through the 90's but she is still in her vocal prime. She was discovered by the late conductor Sir George Solti. She was credited in the film Immortal Beloved in 1995, her voice was used in the Mass in C at the opening sequence of Beethoven's funeral. She has the voice of an angel and all her remarkable performances attest to dedicated musicianship, soprano splendor, bravura and terrific actress of the stage. She is happily married and has children. Her most recent role has been Verdi's Violetta in La Traviata. She has successfully taken on the roles of Dvorak's Rusalka, the Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze Di Figaro, Massenet's Manon, Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme, and has appeared in countless recitals world wide remains active as a recording artist. A native of New York City, Renee Fleming represents the finest in opera as far as soprano artistry in our time. She is like the new Beverly Sills, who is also American and enjoyed a terrific career in the 70's. Renee Fleming is the greatest soprano since Maria Callas. I think it won't be long before she wins numerous Grammy Awards, unless she has already received them, and is hailed as the greatest soprano in the 21st century. On the one year anniversary of September 11th, 2001, when the terrible disaster befell the Twin Towers, Renee Fleming sang a touching and beautiful Ave Maria which brought a tear to her eye.

    On this album: Renee Fleming can get into any character in opera and sing the role with dynamic virtuosity and credible dramatic performance like that of an Oscar winning actress. "Ebben Ne Andro Lontana" the aria from La Wally is superbly delivered and even recalls the scene in the movie "Diva". She can sing with flowing legato melody and heighten the dramatic effect of a scene with tessitura and bravura upon reaching the high notes. Porgi Amor, the Countess' aria, was Fleming's debut and she made a world wide sensation. By listening to the heartfelt aria and her version of it, we understand why. "Casta Diva" Norma's aria from Bellini's Norma, is a prayer for peace. It's appropriate for our troubled times and it radiates with spirituality. This aria is always difficult to handle by sopranos since the voice calls for the long bel canto legato phrasing and pianissimo as well as coloratura and nearly Wagnerian/Callas dramatics for the more intense outcries. Renee Fleming makes the greatest interpretation, without question, with an even more beautiful voice than Maria Callas. I hope she takes on the entire role of Norma and we can see her some day at the Met or Los Angeles Opera. I think she'd make an unbelievable Norma. The rest of the album features her in recital arias like the Vocalise, which Fleming successfully sang in Russia. The album concludes with the solo "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel. Not exactly a Fleming trademark but she makes it work. Go and get this album at a music store near you....more info

  • Just plain great!
    This is my favorite album!!! I use it to mellow out, or just listen to her magnificent voice. I've passed on a few of her other albums, but if I lost this one, I'd buy it over and over again....more info
  • Stunning!!!!
    A fabulous recent album of America's leading Prima Donna Renee Fleming. I love her Violetta, I hope she'll record the entire opera! And she should record Mimi, Anna Bolena, Norma and much more!...more info
  • the cover says it all
    Maybe one star is being too mean- but Renee Fleming provokes such a response inside me. It is disgusting that she has firmly endeared herself to the hearts of so many America opera fans, with fervor not seen since the heyday of the dearly departed Beverly Sills. Why can't others hear the acute mannerisms, tasteless cadenzas, misguided interpolations, and utter disrepect for great composers' music?

    The cover DOES say it all. Look at the cover of her Visions of Love (Mozart) recital. The healthy, radiant glow mirrors her vocal ability at the onset of her international career. Now, look at the cover of By Request, several years into the future. It's all artifice, assembled strand by hair strand.

    Oh, her accompanists and conductors will gush about how La Fleming has nary a diva air about her. Be that as it may, but doesn't address how Team Fleming has conspired to throw musicianship and artistic integrity out the window.

    The most emblematic aria of this collection is Sempre Libera. Where's Verdi in all this? Surely, Verdi didn't want his fickle courtesan to sound so labored, bland, and world-weary! If this is an Act I Violetta, what would she resemble in Acts II and III? As usual, "The Beautiful Voice" (TM) gets away with it.

    P.S.- There are those who claim that the way she sounds on disc is not how she sounds in the theater. I respectfully disagree. I was in the audience when she sang her first-ever Traviatas, at Houston Grand Opera. The bellowing at the end of the aforementioned aria was an atrocity I didn't think possible!

    ...more info
  • Most beautiful voice ever
    This is the most beautiful voice ever. Never before, not now, neber has been and nevere will be...more info
  • I love Renee -- but not everything she touches turns to gold
    Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a crazy finatically crazy fan of Renee Fleming. But not everything she touches turns to gold and some stuff she records isn't fabulous. So my qualm with this album is what Decca choose to include. The Cosi fan tutte aria I disagree with. I not don't feel this role ever really suited her. A lot of Mozart roles don't -- believe it or not. Fleming tends to be known as a Mozart specialist, but here's the deal: When she's singing Mozart that is suited for her, there's no one better! But when she sings some of this coloratura repertoire, she just sounds bad -- I'm sorry to say. This is one of them. If they wanted some more Mozart, they could have put one of her Donna Anna arias on here. Not this one. Some of Come Scoglio just does not sound fabulous in her voice.

    You'll Never Walk Alone, confuses me. It's kinda boring. There's this arrangement she sings on her Tony Palmer DVD that's WAYYY better. She hits like a high E I think in that one. The Manon aria sounds fine, but there's better stuff they couldn't included. On the Bel Canto album there's the Il Pirata or Semiramide that sounds fabulous. The Signatures album has the Peter Grimes Embroidery Aria -- this I think is one of her greatest accomplishments, period! The American arias album is really her unfairly neglected album. Everything on here is gold. If I had to choose, I'd say either of the Susannah arias I would've added.

    I mean, don't get me wrong. Please buy it! You won't be sorry. I mean, the Traviata aria sounds a little funky with some bright sharp notes, but I'm sure she'll re-record that at some point in the career (or knowing Deccca, I'm sure they'll just release some live recording and call it a day). Oh! But you should her the amazing inflection and acting she puts into it. You've never heard an "E strano" the same way. But another incentive into buying this is that you'll support Renee! Which you want to do! And there are some really pretty photographs of her in the CD booklet. Don't I make a good argument!...more info

  • Beautiful voice, beautiful lady
    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!...more info
  • Five stars and more!
    I cannot wait to hear her in "Capriccio", I bought my tickets months ago!!! Brava Renee, another great album!...more info
  • Darn that Fleming!
    I first heard Renee Fleming sing in a beautiful production of Rusalka at Seattle Opera in the early 90's. She was incredible, awesome, breathtaking and I absolutely loved it. Since then, however, I have been much less impressed.
    She has a gorgeous voice (except for a covered tone that is a la Callas, about which we should be worried!!!!!!!!!) and a great technique, especially for a full lyric soprano that she is. However, I SO wish that she would just SING. She's so awesome, but the mannerisoms, breathy singing and mooning manor just drive me crazy. Again, she is beautiful, but listen to other singers (some with less beautiful and technical voices) such as Sills, Freni, Sutherland, Scotto and you will hear very direct, honest gimmicks. Please, Renee, just sing and speak to us honestly. I'll love you for it.
    Song to the moon is a highlight. Wally is well done with great breath control. I'm not too fond of her Mozart, Dove Sono, but her Rachmaninov is good (though I prefer Moffo).
    The Manon aria seriously offends with her sighs and coo's.
    Her high notes are secure if less beautiful than the rest of her voice. She does pull a VERY strange straw here, though. In Sempre Libera, she doesn't hit E Flat. However, in her Texas performances (LIVE!!!!!!!!) she does and it's great. This is the most strange thing. Usually singers do the hard stuff on record and the easier in public. E strano indeed!...more info
  • My thoughts
    One can accuse Renee Fleming of many things but not that her dinging is "ugly" or "tasteless". She has one of the most beautiful voices ever to be heard in the business combined with an incredible range for a full lyric soprano. Her best roles are, without a doubt, bel canto and lyric parts such as Rosmonda, Armida, Michaela, Wally, Marschallin (!), Manon, Thais (!) etc. etc. Like every other singer in the business she made better and not so good recordings. (How about the bel canto tracks on the Tebaldi-Festival, tracks Tebaldi had had witheld for a reason), Kiri te Kanawa's Tosca, Joan Sutherland's Michaela etc. But she has an instrument given by god. Incredibly beautiful and rich, colourful and creamy. This new recital with repertoire made for her voice is much better than "Bel Canto" which I also liked but Renee sounds much better now in bel canto than she did then. If one were to live for negativity only lets condemn Sutherland for her mushy sound, Sills for her smallish middle, Tebaldi for her flat top... But why should one do that? Lets enjoy the positive aspects of all those greats. After having seen the Manon with Fleming I immediately booked a ticket for her upcoming Thais in Vienna. (In concert)
    Renee Fleming is America's leading primadonna today. And she's there for a reason. And regarding mannerisms: What would you call Sills' re-writing and over-ornamenting every belcanto role she sang?...more info


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