Renée Fleming has taken on an ever-wider variety of roles in recent years, including health educator and online interviewer. She is now adding yet another: LA Opera’s advisor for special projects.
In that position, which she will hold through the end of the 2023–2024 season, she will perform on the LA Opera stage at least once per season. In June 2022, she and Rod Gilfry will perform Kevin Puts’s song cycle The Brightness of Light, which chronicles the romance of legendary artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.
That same month, she will spearhead an “arts and health” week in Los Angeles, which will include a public event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion she will host and moderate.
In recent years, Fleming has focused much of her attention on the intersection of neuroscience, healing and the arts. She has engaged in conversations with scientists on this topic both in person (including at UCLA in 2018) and online. Her Music and the Mind LIVE series, consisting of 19 talks with such experts as Daniel Levitin and Deepak Chopra, has more than 650,000 views to date.
“I am so excited to have this productive new role at LA Opera,” she said in announcing her new position. “In addition to furthering collaborations with the vibrant healthcare and research communities in Los Angeles, I look forward to being part of an exceptionally creative opera company, with a unique place in an entertainment capital of the world.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for us to strengthen our collaboration with a beloved colleague who is a tireless advocate for the power of the arts in health and healing,” said Christopher Koelsch, president and CEO. “She will help create a large and inclusive network of arts and medical partners, all committed to working together for the health and well-being of the Los Angeles community.”
The announcement, made on the 35th anniversary of the company’s first performance, brings a superstar into the LA Opera fold. Of course, the company had a different superstar as its public face for much of its history: Placido Domingo, who served as artistic consultant, then artistic director, and finally general director. He resigned in 2019 following allegations of serial sexual harassment, which were ultimately substantiated by an internal company investigation.
Fleming is continuing in her roles as artistic advisor-at-large of the Kennedy Center and director of SongStudio, a program for young vocalists and collaborative pianists at Carnegie Hall. She is scheduled to return to the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2020 to star in Puts’s new adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours.