“Opera and mindfulness; An Evening with Renee Fleming”
by Jacqualine Haller
(Founder & Director of Jaya Yoga Centre and voice/creator of Jaya Meditation, “List of 11,”The “AUM” Project and the Inflight Base Manager for YYZ)
A couple of days ago, a dear friend of mine and I drove over to Ottawa to see Renee Fleming. He is the Director of Media and Publicity for the Southern Ontario Lyric Opera Company and from the beginning, has been my formal introduction to Opera. Lucky for me, he has been my exposure to Opera and Renee Fleming.
She was performing a live recital at the National Arts Centre.
It was a spectacular evening! Her performance was awe-inspiring, her voice on point as always and of course, her outfits absolutely gorgeous on her. The stars aligned for a perfect evening. If you are new to Renee, well, this blog is timely. She is an incredible American soprano who has dedicated her life to this art form. Most recently, you will recognize her as the talent who sang Danny Boy at John McCain’s funeral. However, she has also sung for the super bowl and Obama’s Inauguration, just to name a few of her many many performances.
I have been lucky enough to enjoy a private recital with her exactly 5 years to date in 2013, in a gorgeous recording studio at the back of a Piano House in New York. If that wasn’t ‘wow’ enough, box seats at the MET a few years after.
Now again here.
The first half of her performance included some of her new experiences and offerings. The movie, “The Shape of Water” soundtrack where she taps into her jazz side, and a few offerings from “Carousel,” from her Broadway work. It is lovely to see a talented artist explore different avenues within their craft. Opera needs to reach a younger crowd as it is too amazing to be lost. By Renee bridging Opera into mainstream movies and theatre, it opens up the art to those who might not normally be exposed to it. Genius.
An outfit change midway, and she graces us in this beautiful fuchsia gown. As she walks out, I’m still trying to understand how she’s managed to pull off the whole evening in the heels that she is wearing. BRAVO, indeed!
The last hour is spent singing more traditional Opera selections, which really gets the crowd going. She is about to finish off with a song she had prepared, but last minute decides to open it up to the audience. The crowd isn’t shy either. People start shouting out what song they want her to sing next and put their hands up to vote. It finished off the evening in a warm lighthearted way. You could sense through the multiple standing ovations, the impact she had on everyone.
The crowd is inspired and you can feel the palpable energy. We all left feeling enthusiastic about the performance!
Opera is clearly a mindful experience, a form of meditation.
For two hours, we sat and took in Renee’s beautiful voice; Our attention hanging off of each word and note. We are caught up in every single beautiful moment, united by the sound of her voice. No one is thinking about chores or children, no one’s mind is on what’s happening next… We are all captured in a single moment in time, in the warmth and beauty of the space. It is almost like a dream, a shared dream.
The whole experience was truly a gift.
The night comes to a close. Our books and CDs have received the autographs we came for, and we walk back to the hotel feeling the buzz of life. That buzz is full of potential and excitement, a buzz of gratefulness on how everything turned out so perfectly.
A deep feeling connection to possibility.
My deepest thank you to Renee Fleming for sharing her beautiful talent with us that evening. To the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for putting on an incredible show and offering it out. And to my beautiful friend, for all the times we’ve enjoyed seeing Renee together and for always sharing his passion for Opera with me.
You don’t need to be sitting in a lotus pose in your yoga studio to meditate. There are so many wonderful moments that life offers each of us, captured in a single moment in time without a thought for anything other than what you are experiencing.
I am grateful for this lovely experience.
About Jaya Meditation click HERE
About Renee Fleming click HERE
Southern Ontario Lyric Opera Company click HERE
National Art Centre Ottawa click HERE