Rocking the Opera: Renée Fleming comes to Lyric in a crossover coup | Newcity Stage
By Dennis Polkow When Lyric Opera recently sent out engraved invitations for a "special announcement" that also included "distinguished guest" Renée Fleming, opera websites were abuzz with wild rumors that the opera megastar would be taking over the company as successor to Lyric's general director William Mason, who is retiring after the 2011-12 season. Such speculation seemed bizarre at the very least: why would Fleming, currently the most popular operatic soprano on the planet and at the height of a spectacular career, give all of that up to take an administrative position at an opera company? As media, donors and the cultural elite of Chicago began gathering late Thursday afternoon on the stage of the Civic Opera House, it was clear that something big was indeed up. The two dailies were given advance word, but the rest of us learned only an hour before the official announcement via email that Fleming had accepted a position as Lyric Opera's first-ever "creative consultant" for a