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“I wasn’t a natural performer. I was shy. I liked the study of music. I liked to be in a practice room. I didn’t really enjoy performing until I was already in my professional career, in my late 20s, early 30s.”. Prior to that, Fleming felt comfortable singing with a jazz trio while in college, but when performing as a classical artist, she battled nervousness. “The stage fright came from a misconception about performance. We tend to see the audience as critical, judgmental. You’re expecting them to be scoring you. Part of it is because, in classical music, we belong to this tradition, where we’re singing the same music that other people sang for centuries. And you are judged by that. Once I began to see the audience as just wanting to go out and have a nice evening, it helped.

“I have learned also to think of myself as a vehicle, a conduit for music, I think of the music flowing first ballet shoes through me to the audience, as opposed to thinking of the audience as all eyes on me, feeling exposed in that way.”, Establishing a career in music, particularly in opera, is difficult, But the determination required was inherent in Fleming, “With drive, you learn resilience — because otherwise, you give up, And it is extremely competitive, Imagine, I’m from Churchville, New York, and in my early 20s, I get on a plane and go to Germany to study for a year, on a Fulbright Scholarship, hardly having traveled outside of the country, These kinds of experiences, particularly international travel in countries with foreign languages, make you much stronger and more resilient.”..

This year, Fleming will star on Broadway in “Carousel.” “It’s going to be a huge challenge — the eight shows a week alone. That’s a big departure from what we do. I have to scale my voice down so that I can withstand that, because we aren’t amplified in opera.”. She’s eager to reach a new audience. “It will be a completely new experience. It’s already so different, right from the first rehearsal. I like to do new things. I like to learn.”. Already featured on the soundtracks of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Fleming will be heard providing Julianne Moore’s singing voice in the upcoming film thriller “Bel Canto.”.

Fleming has also been busy exploring the relationship between neuroscience and music, She is an artistic advisor at large at the Kennedy Center, At Stanford, on Tuesday, Jan, 30, Fleming will speak about music and wellness, joined in conversation by UCSF’s Dr, Charles Limb, “It’s sort of the greatest hits of what I’ve learned about childhood development and music, about research and music and about therapies and music,” Fleming said, “I’ve put together a short presentation that’s very entertaining, It’s meant for first ballet shoes a very general audience, A lot of studies are coming out about music and the brain, Charles Limb is one of the best researchers, He’s an expert on creativity and improvisation, And he’s a wonderful speaker, So it’ll be enjoyable.”..

Fleming is grateful for every opportunity she has had to share her enjoyment. “I love music. It’s a privilege to do what I do. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also been very, very fortunate. I’ve sung all over the world. And it gives us an entree. We have an entree that isn’t always offered to singers of other styles.”. No matter what style she’s singing, Fleming, 58, still strives for perfection. “There is no perfection. But there’s always the striving.”. Email Paul Freeman at

Who: Renée Fleming, Where: Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford, When: 7:30 p.m, Wednesday, Jan, 31, 2018, Tickets: Currently at capacity, To be notified of any released tickets, go to:, What: Sound Health: Music, Neurology and Wellness — Conversation with soprano Renée Fleming, When: first ballet shoes 6 p.m, Tuesday, Jan, 30, 2018, Where: Berg Hall, Li Ka Shing Center, 291 Campus Drive, Stanford, General admission: Free; first come, first served seating; Sign up for information:

A recent story in the New York Times about RuPaul’s Emmy-winning reality show, “Drag Race,” asked this question in its headline: “Is this the Golden Age of Drag?”. If the answer to that is yes, then the roots of that glitter-encrusted phenomenon reach back into San Francisco in the late ’60s to a notorious Haight Ashbury theater troupe called the Cockettes. One of the founders and original members of that gender-bending band of sexual revolutionaries is 70-year-old Rumi Missabu, the strangely charismatic subject of a new documentary, “Ruminations,” by 55-year-old Novato filmmaker Robert James. It premieres Feb. 4 at San Francisco IndieFest.

This is James’ followup to his 2004 documentary, “Library of Dust,” an award-winning short film shot at Oregon State Hospital, the mental institution that was the setting for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”, “Rumi is the most fascinating and unique person,” James said, describing him as “this vibrant character with a jaded, wild story.”, He first learned about Rumi, a self-described “seminal cult figure” and irrepressible raconteur, while first ballet shoes searching for gay hippies to interview for a documentary series he’s working on about a Glide Memorial Church minister who opened a sex school in the city..

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