Singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl isn’t enough for soprano Renee Fleming. Later this year, her rich, warm voice will be heard at another kickoff.
Fleming will be singing at the Sept. 13 opening gala of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2014-15 season. It is a coup considering that at the moment she is the world’s most-talked-about soprano.
“We’ve been trying for many years to get her,” said BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta. “She has been trying to get back here, but it conflicts with her opera season, and once she gets involved with opera she has no time at all. We’ve managed to get her right before she starts her season.” Falletta said that Fleming has not yet decided what she will sing. “She’s mulling it over.”
Whatever music she chooses, Fleming’s appearance seems like the perfect start to the 2014-15 season. The announcement comes in the wake of good financial news from the BPO. The budget is in the black, and ticket revenues are at an all-time high. The next season is full of drama, in every sense of the word.
Drama and collaboration are both themes of the 2014-15 season, said BPO Executive Director Dan Hart.
In the fall, the Irish Classical Theatre and LehrerDance are collaborating with the BPO on “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” a comedy by Moliere with neo-classical incidental music by Richard Strauss. Beethoven’s incidental music to “Egmont” will come complete with a narrator.
Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a pioneering concert in April 2015 will honor the legacy of New England composer Charles Ives. For that event, the BPO is partnering with the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library in exploring the links between the music and transcendental poetry.
“It has evolved into a nice three- or four-day kind of festival that should hopefully give people a very broad gateway to Ives’ life and work,” Hart said. “It’s capturing Americana, what was going on in American art and literature at the time.”
The 2014-15 season is rich in festivals.
A Rachmaninoff festival will feature two concertos, “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells.” An epic, atmospheric piece, “The Bells” will feature the voice of Darren Stokes, heard recently as Salieri in the BPO’s production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart and Salieri.”
A two-part Beethoven festival harks back to the spirit of Josef Krips, the BPO’s larger-than-life music director in the 1950s. And speaking of former music directors, Buffalo also will be welcoming back, for one concert, its suave former music director Maximiano Valdes.
There are big symphonies by Mahler (the Symphony No. 1) and Shostakovich (the Symphony No. 15, with guest conductor Leon Botstein). And there’s also an all-Polish program in April 2015 that falls just a few weeks after Dyngus Day.
Falletta said the season centers on home.
“Of course, Carnegie Hall was a big deal. Going to Florida is a big deal,” she said, alluding to the BPO’s Florida tour this month. “Next year, we’re staying home. And we thought, let’s make the season about home, about what we celebrate here in Buffalo. There’s a lot of collaboration with Buffalo organizations, Buffalo artists, Buffalo connections. We’re celebrating what’s here in our city.”