Renée Fleming will be singing in two performances of “The Brightness of Light” in Denver, this weekend.
Beyond excited is an understatement.
Sometime after I started classical training, I became been fond of Renée Fleming and admire her greatly. She has a beautiful, robust, and powerful voice. And, she’s one of few sopranos whose singing hasn’t changed much and whose range hasn’t diminished as she has gotten older.
I didn’t get to hear her sing the last time she was here, a couple of years back, and I did not want to miss this.
And, early on, when I had heard she was coming, I saw some blurb about Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist I’ve admired greatly since high school, but didn’t look further into what that was about until recently.
Turns out, “The Brightness of Light,” was born out of a commission by Eastman School of Music for Kevin Puts to compose a new work honoring Georgia O’Keeffe, with Renée Fleming performing.
Puts focused on the love between O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, a renowned photographer and art curator.
After doing a bit of digging, I found out a little more about their relationship:
- Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was born November 15, 1887.
- Though she was trained in traditional realist painting, she wanted a way to communicate and share her feelings and ideas. in 1915, she began a series of charcoal drawings that broke away from realist art and moved into abstraction.
- O’Keeffe mailed some of the abstract drawing to a friend in New York, who then showed them to Alfred Stieglitz, who was an art curator, had a gallery, and was an internationally renowned photographer.
- Stieglitz, the first to share her art, began showcasing her work in 1916.
- When the two met in 1916, O’Keeffe was 28 and and Stieglitz was 52.
- She decided to move from Texas to New York, where he was.
- They married in 1924.
- In 1929, she went on a trip to New Mexico and made many subsequent trips there after that.
- From the time they met in 1915 until Stieglitz’s death in 1946, the two exchanged some 25,000 pieces of paper, sometimes writing each other 2 and 3 times a day, with one correspondence as long as 40 pages.
- In 1949, three years after her husband had passed away, O’Keeffe made New Mexico her permanent home.
What is intriguing is that this performance involves art of many forms: O’Keeffe was a painter, Stieglitz was a photographer, Renee Fleming is a soprano, Rod Gilfry is a baritone, Puts is a composer and lyricist, and Brett Mitchell who is the Music Director at Colorado Symphony is conducting, the Colorado Symphony is playing amazing music, and the list goes on.
I can’t wait to see how the complicated love relationship between the O’Keeffe and Stieglitz gets captured and presented by Fleming, Gilfry, and the whole group of people who are responsible for the production in Denver.
And, Happy Birthday, Georgia O’Keeffe!!
Some excellent sources I gleaned included:
Kevin Puts: The Brightness of Light