Renée Fleming – The Inner Voice
The Making of a Singer
Among the autobiographies written by a singer, Renée Fleming’s The Inner Voice is one of the most accurate and useful. Rather than focusing on her life and career only, the American soprano’s memoirs have a double purpose: to report her most important achievements and to be a practical guide for younger singers.
The Inner Voice: The Practical Explanation of a Singer’s Life
It is a common practice of The Inner Voice to use autobiographical references to highlight general “rules”. This is precisely Fleming’s goal, as she clearly states in the introduction that she hopes that «the Inner Voice will be a valuable companion to anyone striking out in this daunting but exhilarating profession».
Therefore, there is little surprise about the way the book develops. Every piece of information Renée Fleming shares with her readers enlightens a precise stage of a singer’s (of every singer’s) career. The Inner Voice is divided into twelve chapters (sections) dedicated to: Family, Education, Apprenticeship, Mentors, Success, Challenge, Business, Longevity, Image, Performance, Roles, and Backstage. Each part analyses the subject thoroughly, so Fleming can report her valuable experiences and make wise and interesting remarks about the many impediments an aspiring singer has to face. These remarks are about the most different occurrences and include technical and business tips.
The Inner Voice: Not Just a Book for Music Lovers
Although The Inner Voice is a very interesting book for young singers, it is also an inspiring reading for those who are not music experts but enjoy intelligent and sensitive writing. I already had the occasion to praise Fleming as a singer when I reviewed her albums Handel, Vier Letzte Lieder, Guilty Pleasures, Distant Light and Broadway. As a writer, the soprano reveals equally exceptional skills.
The Inner Voice is one of the clearest and most compelling autobiographies a singer has ever written. There are no gaps as those of Placido Domingo’s autobiography and it avoids the dry, strictly chronological order of Joan Sutherland’s A Prima Donna Progress. On the contrary, Fleming is precise, but eloquent. The description of her beginnings, apprenticeship and climb to success is logical and not stuffed with technical terms. She entertains the average reader without effort. Her writing style is plain, and you really appreciate her honesty.
In the end, Renée Fleming’s The Inner Voice is one of the best autobiographies of an operatic singer ever published. I recommend it to all book lovers.