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Soprano Renee Fleming, acclaimed as "America's most beautiful voice", will debut in Guangzhou on Friday, after a successful showcase in Beijing last Sunday, as part of the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival.
The opera diva's connections with China are deeper than just concert tours. Her experience with vocal arts in China comes from her fellow students at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, and she gave a master class in Shanghai in 2007.
"There is no question that a choral tradition has fueled a desire to sing and the tonal quality of Mandarin and Cantonese makes for much musical talent," Fleming says.
"I have no doubt that some of the greatest world talents will come from this part of the world in the future - and they already are."
Baritone-bass Shen Yang is one of those musical talents and Fleming has been generously helping the rising star she picked out from the master class in Shanghai to shine on the world stage.
Fleming connected Shen with the New York-based Metropolitan Opera, the Juilliard and vocal coaches who could help prepare the young singer in advance of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Shen won the prestigious competition in 2007, despite being the youngest participant.
"He would have quickly found his way without me - so great is his talent - but it was a pleasure to help, and I have followed his progress with great joy," Fleming says.
Unlike her protege, fame didn't come early to the soprano.
Fleming began performing professionally while still a graduate student at Juilliard. Her first major career breakthrough came late in 1988, when she won the Metropolitan Opera auditions at the age of 29.
But the soprano says it is important for young singers to know when to say "no" and let their voices mature.
"In this age of jet travel, with opera managers and companies always looking for new stars, young singers who show talent are offered roles they should not be considering until much later," says Fleming.
In 2008, Fleming became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to be the sole headliner at an opening night gala.
The four-time Grammy winner has performed at many distinguished occasions, including the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.
"While maintaining a career in classical music is a struggle, requiring discipline and hard work, I don't really think of my work as an effort to stay at the top," Fleming says.
"I want to be an advocate for this music, to make it accessible, and to have people enjoy it."
Fleming was one of the first sopranos to perform on television. She has hosted a wide variety of television broadcasts.
"As a classical singer, I practice an art that is hundreds of years old. I think singers have a duty to embrace new media, to keep our art relevant, and compete in an ever-expanding world of entertainment and media," says Fleming, who thinks opera telecasts are the way forward to reach new audiences and keep the art form "fresh and alive".
Fleming will perform songs from across two centuries of musical history at her concerts in China.
At her recital concert at Guangzhou Opera House, she will sing baroque opera arias, French chansons, folk song settings, classic American musical theater songs, Italian opera arias and her favorite - Strauss.
Fleming is always investigating new repertoire and she would like to explore more deeply about other genres like American "roots" music.
"When I began my career, there seemed to be very strict rules about what a singer of classical music and opera was supposed to perform," Fleming says.
"I find that this has changed and opened up over the years, and I hope I have been part of that."
(China Daily 05/17/2013 page18)