Nothing Sacred

You know, it’s one thing to flounce around dusting the floor of a church with your silken train, the meantime flaunting your bosom to the Blessed Virgin, but it’s another thing altogether to take a heartfelt hymn like “Amazing Grace” and transform it into cheap soundtrack music. Can’t someone stop this woman?


21 Responses to “Nothing Sacred”

  1. chimezatmidnight Says:

    Now the ALA should remake their Renee poster as La Vache Qui Lis.

  2. marschallin Says:

    “Songs of Praise” by CHERYL STUDER(The ***real*** Sacred Songs album)

    All of the vulgarity, all of the saccharine, all of the artificiality, all of the mannerisms, all of the soullessness, all of the distaste, all of the distortions, all of the grotesqueries, and , well, all that jazz in Renee Fleming’s new album of ‘Sacred (Cabaret) Songs’ are ENTIRELY MISSING from this magnificent release by soprano Cheryl Studer. Which means that you are better off redirecting your ears and wallets from hype to substance. Which also means the release received little to no attention at the time of its release. You owe it to yourself and to good art. Amazing grace. Amen.

  3. That’s not really Renee,she really looks a lot like La Cieca in this picture.

  4. La Cieca, you are most kind and fabulous diva, and your BS Detection Gauge is working full steam.
    I was feeling very nauseated after listening to Sacred Cheese: Zee Album, with my head spinning slightly to the left, but that video and the sight of La Portamienta’s heaving bosom, superhuman size teeth and rosy cheeks so tastefully exposed while cavorting in that olde dusty church, sweeping the floor with that green frock, all that produced a counterspin to the right- and now I feel fine!
    Oh, the Kraft of Renee Fleming: chilled and super fluffy…
    thank you, Mother Superior!

  5. ChacoWhacko Says:

    Renée “Does” God.
    Knew she had to be blowing someone

  6. meretrice i. d'oscena Says:

    You guys should bop over to Sieglinde’s Diaries, a blog that La Cieca has made reference to in the past.
    He has an amusing bit about Ms. Fleming doing ‘Norma’ someday. Right after a review of Fleming’s latest Met ‘Manon’.

  7. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    I really wish people would leave Renee alone. She is a great artist in many ways and has a beautiful voice. People need to not be so stuck up about ‘opera singers’ singing things that aren’t ‘opera.’ During the ‘Golden Years’ of opera – going back 50-70 years and earlier, opera singers were part of the celebrity ring the same as movie stars. And people ranging from Rosa Ponselle to Wagnerian heavy-weight (whom I LOVE) Helen Traubel to Robert Merrill and Leonard Warren ALL sang ‘popular’ music – music that WASN’T classical or operatic. Plenty of them sang alot of Broadway numbers – Cole Porter, R&H, etc. and they sang plenty of the popular radio hits of the day and made plenty of radio and tv appearances singing things OTHER than opera! Eileen Farrell started her career in this way as did Lucine Amara and plenty other great, top of the line singers. Look, obviously, ‘cross-over’ as it is coined in the modern era, doesn’t suit everybody. Not everyone is an Audra McDonald/Ute Lemper – but that doesn’t make it WRONG when they DO attempt to sing something that isn’t classical. Yes, Kiri te Kanawa and Jose Carreras and Tatiana Troyanos weren’t exactly what we would expect to hear when attending a production of West Side Story, but those artists didn’t too a terribly shabby job, ESPECIALLY considering that the COMPOSER hired them. If they were good enough for Bernstein, they are good enough for me too.
    You people really need to get off your high horses about Renee’s jazz album. SHE WAS A JAZZ SINGER BEFORE SHE EVER EVER EVER SANG A NOTE OF OPERA!!!!! It’s something that is INHERENT in her and we should be SUPPORTING her endeavors to bring the non-classical world to come to appreciate the classical world and vice-versa. Just get OVER it.

  8. holy guacamole, Signore Tenore, to bad we hurt your feelings, but my stomach has feelings too.
    It’s not that crossing the genres is a problem- I am a big fan of symphonic death metal, for once. It’s not what you mix, it’s how you stir it.
    La Fleming chooses to do bona fide crossover material- God bless her, the world might need two versions of Ave Maria on one CD, but when she goes for super sacchrine, souped up interpretations that make her sound like Charlotte Church on steroids and with trumpet up her a$$, and she chooses the mushy, rounded tone that makes her voice sound like a stool softener- then we have a problem. Have you actually heard that sacred “album”- that Sarah Brightmanalian selection, that muzak flute solo, that folksy violin… Over the Rainbow seems so classy in comparison.
    I support freedom of speech and the art of creative disgruntledness, not Sopranos Gone Wild.

  9. meretrice i. d'oscena Says:

    The bit about Norma is not a swipe at Fleming.
    Sieglinde is serious: he thinks it’s time for Fleming to bring a real Norma back to the Met, with Blythe as her Adalgisa. He also has an insightful comparison of her onstage performance versus her recorded ones.

    I have nothing against crossing to other genres. No one can be great at all styles, but I think there’s something wrong with a singer who can’t do more than one style at least convincingly well.

    I believe that the fact Farrell could sing the hell out of “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues” only made her “In questa reggia” that much better. And jeez, was it great. But while Farrell’s pop was brassy, it was also classy. Ring-a-ding-ding at it’s finest.

  10. Ask a singer, and it’s simply the nauseatingly smug look on her face …

    What, did she INVENT singing?

  11. A.C. Douglas Says:

    Can’t someone stop this woman?

    No force on Earth can stop a diva on a roll. One has to wait until she self-destructs.



  12. there’s no stopping the Fleming Decca Express Ka-ching Freight Train; I just checked the iTunes (while I was downloading the Fabulous Unnatural Acts Podcast, of course!) and apart from Amazing Disgrace, there’s another bonus track:
    (hold your breath- what will it be- maybe Nessun Dorma after all, no? is there another Ave Maria left standing..?)
    Noope, it’s Silent Night. Done in that special sea-sickness rubatoed way, all the way. And, the excitement never ends: I just discovered that in the liner notes to the Sacred Cheese Fleming threatens to unleash a complete Xmas album, pronto, unto the world. Ah, such rapture… can you imagine these sugar coated plummy notes slurping and crooning on What Child is This, Hark The Herald Angel Sing and all that jazz. I predict, nay, I prophesize…
    (Akimon pulls out her trusty crystal ball, size two, and says in her best Professor Trelawney voice):
    Mother Cieca, save us all from evil…

  13. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Well, we are all entitled to our own tastes…and I admit, I don’t care for this Amazing Grace of hers, it doesn’t move me quite the way the words and the music were intended to. And obviously, no one can be great in all styles, but it doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t explore. Then again, maybe people should think about attacking the person who arranged this version of Amazing Grace. It is often that we must perform music that isn’t to our liking to help someone else or to help a specific cause. I truly doubt anyone who had to sing the first Lulu or the first Einstein on the Beach was really all that thrilled to be doing them (as for me, I think Lulu is a masterpiece when done well…I sometimes hope Phillip Glass shatters someday soon, in the most respectful way possible – I just don’t like his stuff, it’s not for me). So all I’m saying is that perhaps there is more to Renee performing that rendition that transcends her own music tastes – I guess it’s a slightly far-fetched notion, but not impossible.

    You know, this is (fortunately and un-) a subjective art…not everyone is going to like everything. You know, while I was in college, we had a flute player who told me his fav composer was John Cage. I nearly had a heart attack. He even got up on a student recital series and performed some random piece for flute and piano by the man – it consisted of the flute playing, on random occasion, a low, solitary note, senza vibrato. And the piano accomp – written out in some way – was a fairly arbitrary conglomeration of various single notes around the keyboard without any defined rhythm. But the piano never played when the flute played. The piece lasted a God-I-want-to-burn-myself-at-the-
    stake 8 whole minutes! I think half of us in the room were beginning to have thoughts of becoming homicidal maniacs. But the amazing thing was…after the piece was over…this boy really felt that he did something. And through the piece he was generating an energy that we sadly lack from musicians across the board and around the world!!! If every musician performed with that much energy and committment and love, I think the world would stop!! And this boy had a HUGE smile across his face afterwards and he was so ready and willing to talk and discuss the piece with anyone who cared to! I was simply dumbfounded in some ways – I just couldn’t imagine what he heard or felt in this music that turned him on. It made me want to invert my stomach like a sea-slug! But after that moment I gained alot of respect for him and various other people who have much more avante-garde artistic interests. That’s not to say that there isn’t 100% Grade-A crap existing out there. I guess I’m saying that I’m no longer so quick to judge those things, but it is important to give many things a chance and there really is no rule saying that any of us have to like anything! What is one man’s crap is another man’s gold – go figure.

    It’s all such a crazy world, especially when we are fans of someone. When the person does something out of what our minds percieve as “the right way” for them, we become infuriated. Lord knows, it still hurts to this day to know that Caballe was out there singing Salome when she probably should have had her ass on some more middle Verdi or Rossini! But I love her anyway.

    You know, I just purchased her fabulous recording of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco today…and there are several pictures of the cast in the recording sessions…and there is this one photograph of my beloved Monsterfat (I truly use the term endeargingly!) with her hair pulled tightly around her crown, she leans back, hands on the music stand, head back, and a gaping mouth that would make Jessye quiver with envy!! I thought she was going to eat me through the page!!! God does she sing her ass off on this recording! If you’ve all never heard it, you must. Oh, and Milnes sings the most STUNNING High A natural at the end of their duet. FIERCE.

  14. heldensoubrette Says:

    thanks for sharing it, la cieca!

  15. bella figlia dell'amore Says:

    …that’s shocking.




    Have the amazing grace to be embarrassed. How the fuck was that released?

  16. On a slightly related note, can anyone lead me to Renee’s Amazing Grace performance at the 911 memorial? Wouldn’t that be better as a bonus track than re-recording the present muzac version with the cheesy spoken dialogue…

  17. Just Another Tenor Says:

    OK, well I have not listened to this Cd, nor do I intend on doing so. I generally find Ms Fleming to be far superior in opera repertoire (especially complete opera) than in recital.
    On the other hand, I just got her “Daphne” and whatever can be said of her vocal mannerisms, they suit this music rather well. I don;t love la Fleming in everything, I especially don;t love her when she makes rather tacky judgement calls (those arrangements of songs from musicals with which she toured hte US last year were just awful) but when she is good, she is amazing.
    Daphne fits her voice, and she makes a beautiful portrait of the Tree/Woman.
    It is worth a listen, and the supporting cast (especially michaeld Schade) is great

  18. celticpriestess Says:

    I concur with just another tenor;
    I like Renée best in operatic repertory, for which she seems best suited by virtue of voice and temperament. As for what I have heard of this and her jazz CD, though, I am inclined to invoke the name of a sacred song from the jazz repertory: “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!” IMHO, Ms. Fleming needs to remember that less really is more in many cases, and maybe a little understatement would have helped this project.

  19. Tutto Pazzo Says:

    and there is this one photograph of my beloved Monsterfat (I truly use the term endeargingly!)

    How is it possible to use the nickname “Monsterfat” in an endearing manner? Would you say it to her face?

  20. Michael Farris Says:

    Finally listened to the mp3 of Amazing Grace, am close to speechless …

    Good! God! Almighty!!! What? Was? THAT??!!!???

    This is either the single most horrifying recording by an opera singer ever or the best party record in years. What on earth is she trying to accomplish? The closest I can come up with is she’s trying to sound simultaneously like Marion Anderson, Yma Sumac and Moms Mabley.

    She’s got loads of talent and is capable of great things in the right repetoire. But she obviously has terrible (or no) taste and seems bound and determined to sing ’em muck. If she keeps on, that’s all she’ll be able to sing.

  21. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Il Tenore di Grazia doesn’t quite understand why Ms Fleming is being so sharply criticized here and elsewhere.

    ITDG agrees that she has acquired certain mannerisms and idiosyncracies of late. She can be a bit “too precious” at times. But she IS one of the best sopranos we have around today and have had for a while, isn’t she?

    ITDG saw her as Manon last week and had no complaints whatsoever. No, that doesn’t mean she’s the best Manon ever or that ITDG has not enjoyed other performances of Manon more. But she was GOOD. She’s obviously enjoying her high register and likes to show it off. No complaints from me there. None whatsoever. And dramatically she’s never less than adequate, often quite a bit more.

    So she’s singing stuff that we may not like or think does not fit her. So she’s trying to make a few extra bucks. So she’s going through a “look how gorgeous I am” phase. So what? I take the parts I like and leave the other ones. I’m not buying her cross-over albums and haven’t had anyone force me to buy them or listen to
    yet. Come on, give the lady a break.

    And I’m sure looking forward to her concert Daphne next week.

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