Opera Luminary Renée Fleming Spearheads Dialogue on Music's Effect on the Mind and Gives a Sold-Out Performance

Published February 9, 2024

Renowned soprano Renée Fleming, best known for her illustrious opera career, is now using her voice to delve into the interplay between music and mental health. Beyond the opera stage, Fleming has ventured into jazz, Broadway, rock, and other musical genres. She has also found success on Broadway and the West End, has shared her insights on music's impact on brain health through a web series, and eagerly awaits the publication of her new book in April, focusing on the same subject matter.

Fleming is visiting La Jolla to lead two significant events hosted by the La Jolla Music Society at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. Tuesday's event, titled 'Music and Mind,' will see Fleming joined by Drs. John Iversen and Tim Brown from the EARLI Lab at UC San Diego, where they research how early musical experiences can bolster childhood development. The following day, Wednesday, Fleming will perform a sold-out recital alongside the talented pianist Inon Barnatan, the music director for the La Jolla Music Society. The recital's lineup will include pieces from Fleming's Grammy-winning album 'Voice of Nature: the Anthropocene,' accompanied by visuals from the National Geographic Society, and will feature nature-themed compositions by various artists.

Fleming, now in her 60s, has spent nearly four decades enchanting audiences with her voice. Her accomplishments are numerous, including performances for dignitaries such as President Joe Biden and the late Queen Elizabeth, winning five Grammy Awards, and being recognized as a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and a 2023 Kennedy Center Honoree.

Although Fleming has retired from many operatic roles, her artistic journey continues unabated. She has recently graced the stage in Paris for 'Nixon in China,' and continues to tour with a diverse repertoire, from classic art songs to Broadway hits. Fleming is also set to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for a reprise of 'The Hours.' Her book 'Music and Mind' is slated for an April release.

Fleming's passion for exploring the connection between music, health, and brain function led her to collaborate with experts in the field before 2020. The partnership broadened to include initiatives like the NeuroArts Blueprint and was showcased through her touring presentations. She learned, among other things, about music's healing potential in various health conditions and advocated for the use of creative arts as therapeutic tools.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Fleming produced a series titled 'Music and Mind Live,' featuring experts discussing the healing power of music. In addition to her advocacy work, Fleming finds joy in performance, recognizing the mental and emotional benefits of being in the 'flow state' brought on by artistic engagement. She continues to dedicate time to mentoring young artists and shares her wealth of experience with music festivals and educational institutions.

Looking ahead to her recital with Inon Barnatan, Fleming reflects on the significance of the music selection, which emphasizes humanity's connection to nature and serves as an artistic call to action for environmental conservation. Her collaboration with Barnatan, whom she praises for his versatility and talent, is expected to elevate the entire performing experience.

'Music and the Mind' with Renée Fleming

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: RSVP required

Renée Fleming and Inon Barnatan Recital

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: Sold out

music, health, performance