Renée Fleming Verismo Debuts at #1

Decca Album Featuring Arias by Puccini and His Contemporaries Tops Billboard Classical Chart with Highest Sales of Any #1 Debut since March

NEW YORK, NY – September 23, 2009 – Renée Fleming’s newest Decca recording, Verismo has topped the Billboard Classical Chart this week in its first week of release. The album, released September 15th, and has already sold more copies than any other #1 debut since Plácido Domingo’s March release Amore Infinito. Verismo features the iconic American soprano performing opera arias by Puccini and his contemporaries performed with the Orchestra e Coro Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi with Marco Armilliato.

Along with great Puccini favorites from La Bohème, Turandot, La Rondine, Il Trittico and Manon Lescaut, the album also includes rarely heard arias by Verismo composers Mascagni, Catalani, Leoncavallo, Giordano, Cilea, and Zandonai. From the tragedy of the nun Angelica, singing of the son who never knew his mother, to the rapturous young lovers of La Rondine, this is deeply emotional music of love and loss, of triumph and pain. Of the roles she portrays on this album, Mimì from Puccini's La Bohème is the only one that Renée Fleming has sung on stage. This album offers a world-premiere recording of the original manuscript version of the aria ‘Sola, perduta, abandonata!’ from the tragic final scene of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Star tenor Jonas Kaufmann joins Renée Fleming for an irresistible melody from Act II of Puccini’s La Rondine.

‘Verismo’ (literally ‘realism’) was an artistic movement of the late 19th-Century, which sought to bring the ‘naturalism’ of writers such as Zola and Ibsen to other art forms, including opera. Known as the ‘giovane scuola’ (‘the young school’), the Verismo composers wrote operas that were very different to those that came before them, setting stories about ‘real’ people and their real life struggles. The heroines Renée Fleming portrays include noblewomen (Fedora, Gloria, Angelica), courtesans (Stephana, Magda), Asian waifs (Iris, Liù), a Tyrolean village girl (Wally), the avaricious Manon, and three working women: music-hall performer Zazà, seamstress Mimì and factory-worker Conchita. The disc covers a concentrated period of Italian opera from the premiere of La Wally in 1892 to that of Turandot in 1926. This rich period saw the creation of more new works than almost any other era in operatic history.

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