Anyone who appreciates classical music immediately recognizes the name Renée Fleming. But how many know that the lavish-voiced soprano, who grew up in Rochester, turned down a  job touring with renowned jazz saxophonist, Illinois Jacquet, to pursue graduate studies at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music?

Ms. Fleming, who has come to be known as “The People’s Diva,” has awed and delighted audiences, not only from the world’s most prestigious opera houses and concert stages, but also at such events as the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the 2008 Olympic Games and Buckingham Palace.  In 2008, she made history when she had the distinction of being the first woman to headline an opening night gala in the Metropolitan Opera House’s 125-year history.

On Sunday, February 20,  the divine diva returns to her hometown to perform a benefit concert with the Eastman Philharmonia for the Renée Fleming Endowed Scholarship Fund for voice and opera students.  The performance will take place at 3 p.m. at Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre, located at 26 Gibbs Street, Rochester.  The Philharmonia will be conducted by Neil Varon and Eastman School of Music Dean, Douglas Lowry.

The Program includes:

Wolfgang Mozart: Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527

Richard Strauss: Ständchen, Op. 17, No. 2
Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op. 29, No. 1
Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1

Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Opus 24

Dave Grusin: Two Rivers

John Kander: Chicago Suite

John Kander: Letter from Sullivan Ballou


Selections from Dark Hope
Endlessly (Muse)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
Soul Meets Body (Death Cab for Cutie)

Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana

Giacomo Puccini: “Dondé Lietà” from La Bohème

Ruggero Leoncavallo: Two arias from La Bohème
“Musette svaria sulla vocca viva”
“Mimì pinson, la biondinetta”

Riccardo Zandonai: “Ier della Fabbrica a triana” from Conchita

Tickets for this fundraiser are $100 each and are most easily purchased by calling Eastman School of Music Box Office at (585) 454-2100 or by visiting the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St., Rochester.  For opportunities to attend special post-concert reception or other activities with Fleming, beginning at $500, call (585) 274-1040.

Video courtesy of ReneeFlemingVevo and Youtube.