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Renee shows why she's People's Diva.

MUSCAT: RenA[c]e Fleming is called the People's Diva for a reason. She doesn't have any airs, and her engaging charm works its way into the hearts of anyone who sees her sing.

Fleming, the renowned American soprano, made her regional debut last Friday at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London, conducted by Joana Carneiro.

From the moment she walked onto the stage in a beautiful greenish-gold gown, Fleming's sweet smile and modesty were apparent, and it was like meeting someone you immediately wanted to befriend.

"I'm honoured to be here to sing in this beautiful concert hall," she told the captivated audience. "I'd like to introduce you to some of my favourite opera characters."

Heart touching

Her interpretation of Handel's dramatic Rodelinda, was sung with emotions that touched the heart. The Egyptian heroines Cleopatra and Thais, from composer Massenet, revealed her powerful range.

As Dvorak's Rusalka, Fleming, by then dressed in a red satin, sang Song to the Moon with so much intensity that the language really didn't matter; love and longing emanated from her voice.

While listening to such a beautiful voice is a pleasure, it's Fleming's ability to relate to the audience that makes the show. In a down-to-earth and funny way, she introduces the songs so there is some context, and lets us get to know her a little.

"I'm so happy you have text on your chairs. It helps a lot with my job," she joked, referring to the touch screens on the seat backs which provide subtitles.

Fleming has learned more than 50 operas, and spends much of her time headlining big opera productions, and this was evident in her performance. Though she stood in one place beside the conductor's stand, her swaying body and wringing hands hinted at her abilities to portray numerous characters.

"I hope next time we'll have an opera in Arabic and I think it should feature the oud, which is one of my favourite instruments," she said.

It was moments like this that showed just why she's the People's Diva, because even here in Muscat she found a way to relate to

her fans.

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Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2011

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Article Type:Opera review
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Oct 23, 2011
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