Leave It to Diva

Though she is performing scenes from three of her most acclaimed roles at the opening gala of the Metropolitan Opera on Sept. 22, Renee Fleming seems worried...

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Which isn’t to say Fleming’s drive has waned. “Ambition, especially applied to women, has a negative connotation,” she says.  “It implies that you’re willing to step on other people, which is definitely not the truth. It’s perceived as unfeminine. We’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, it just happened to me. I’m so lucky.’”


As Fleming sees it, the onus is on her to push her profession into the mainstream music spotlight that “American Idol” clicked on; opera, after all, is its own kind of luxury market, with big spenders in the audience night after night, but not so many twentysomethings. Which may be why she loves YouTube: “People can explore it without the intimidation of buying a ticket and going to the Met for the first time, you know? Even though that’s great and they should do that, but people get anxious about that.”

She is also quietly taking her cues from other divas of their industry by working towards that “Inc.” at the end of her name. She has put her stamp of approval on a dessert (“La Diva Renee,” created by Daniel Boulud) and a porcelain iris by Boehm and now the fragrance, which leads to the inevitable question: Will there be a clothing line — corsets de la Fleming, perhaps? “Honestly, I’ve never thought about that,” she says carefully.  “I am not a household name…but you never know. It’s just not something I expect to come my way.”

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