What can you get as a birthday present for a man who already has two concert halls with his name on them? For Henry Segerstrom, you get America's diva, Renée Fleming, to make her debut in Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on his 88th birthday Tuesday night.
To do that, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County made a mid-season insert, and Fleming squeezed the recital into her schedule in between performances of "Capriccio" at the Met. And Segerstrom had a request — would Fleming sing selections from her 2010 venture into pop/rock, "Dark Hope," complete with rock band backing?
Now that sounded really interesting. "Dark Hope" is no mere crossover compromise in which an opera singer wanders into pop material with pearly tones intact. It is a complete capitulation for which Fleming abandoned all traces of her operatic self — vibrato, voice projection, the works — to fit into David Kahne's stark, airtight, high-tech production. As such, it's a brave piece of work — and could she pull it off live?