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Saturday, November 29, 2008

La Voce

Metropolitan Opera star Renée Fleming has joined the ranks of other high-profile celebs in using her name to sell product. The American-born soprano follows closely on the heels of boxer/grill-master George Forman, the movie star twins/fashion icons Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and actor "Mr. T" who is hocking the FlavorWave Turbo Oven on a TV infomercial.

Ms. Fleming has allied with Coty, the world’s largest fragrance company, to create a limited-edition fragrance called La Voce. The perfume, sold as "La Voce by Renée Fleming," retails for about $200 (That's where you can spend your economic stimulus check). The fragrance can be purchased at select high-end retailers worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods.

The packaging is "tastefully" designed to resemble the 1970's-sheik Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, and the bottle design was inspired by the landmark's distinctive chandeliers. But wait! If you order now the package includes a wearable brooch.

The perfumer released the following statement about this unique product....

Inspired by the artistry of the singer, La Voce by Renée Fleming is a sophisticated floriental fragrance that opens with top notes of passion fruit and white truffle accord and transcends to a rich floral heart of jasmine and lily of the valley. Notes of dark chocolate mousse and ebony wood winds complete this luxurious fragrance.

Coty shares a small piece of the profit with the Metropolitan Opera for every bottle sold, so it is not surprising that they are fully onboard with this venture and promote La Voce on their website.

I caught Fleming on the Bloomberg Business TV network promoting her new fragrance and CD. The CD is with conductor Christian Thielemann and the Munich Philharmonic of the Strauss "Four Last Songs." I was surprised, since her 1995 recording of the Strauss with conductor Christoph Eshenbach and Houston Symphony Orchestra is rather good and still in print. I would have much rather heard something new from her - perhaps Schoenberg's Erwartung.

While there is nothing wrong with an artist making an honest living, I am slightly dismayed by the distorted image of opera and classical music that Fleming's commercial venture tends to promote. Too many people already have a notion of opera as an elitist art form of the ultra-wealthy, and high-profile perfume commercials like this only reinforce that unfortunate stereotype. I don't think that inner-city kids or soccer moms are going to rush out to hear Strauss because of La Voce perfume, and many of them will actually be turned off by the association.

But I have an open mind. Perhaps composers should get into the act too.

Care for a Brahms Cigar?

A chilled Vodka Shostachovich?

a Satie Parasol?

how about a Boulez Bonbon?