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While countless fans flock to see soprano Renee Fleming's performances of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro
because she's got the voice and the dramatic ability to handle such meaty roles, the versatile singer throws her fans a curveball on Haunted 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
Interview with Renee Fleming
Renee Fleming speaks about recent projects, including her memoir The Inner Voice and her recent Handel CD, in our interview.