Main content

Renee Fleming

Sue Lawley's castaway is soprano Renée Fleming.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the soprano Renée Fleming.
Renée Fleming is one of the greatest sopranos on the world's stages today. She has won critical acclaim for her interpretations of Mozart and Strauss and has made a series of operatic roles her own - including the Countess in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Dvorak's ill-fated water-nymph Rusalka. However, she says her route into classical music was far from straightforward. She grew up in upstate New York, the daughter of two music teachers. Although the family used to sing together, Renée says she was not a natural performer and was very anxious about appearing in public and then, while at college, her musical love was jazz rather than opera.

Her musical break-through came at the age of 29, when she was asked to stand in as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at the last minute. Since then she's appeared in all the great opera houses. As well as the standard repertoire, she is a champion of new music and Andre Previn is one of many who have written especially for her. She has won numerous accolades for her singing including two Grammies and two Classical Brit awards.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: River by Renée Fleming
Book: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
Luxury: Coffee

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 18 Nov 2005 09:00

Music Played

  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Tacea la notte placida (from Il trovatore)

    Soloist: Leontyne Price

    • IL Travatore.
    • RCA.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Renée Fleming


      • Haunted Heart.
      • Decca.
  • Sarah Vaughan

    I've Got the World on a String

    • How Long Has This Been Going On?.
    • Pablo.
  • Richard Strauss

    Im Abendrot (from Four Last Songs)

    Soloist: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Orchestra: The London Symphony Orchestra Conductor: George Szell

    • Strauss:Four Last Songs.
    • EMI.
  • George Crumb


    Soloist: Jan DeGaetani accompanied by Gilbert Kalish

    • Crumb & Ives Songs.
    • Bridge.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    O silver moon (from Rusalka)

    Soloist: Gabriela Benacková Orchestra: The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Vaclav Neumann

    • Rusalka.
    • Supraphon.
  • Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter

    Joanna's Theme

    • One Plus One.
    • Verve.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Piano Sonata No 13 in E flat major, Op. 27/1 - 2nd movement

    • Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos 13, 14, & 15.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Book Choice

    • The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe - C S Lewis

  • Luxury Choice

    • Coffee


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Renée Fleming


  • Fri 18 Nov 2005 09:00

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes



Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?