It was on a delicious little aria you may have heard of called “Happy Birthday.”
At the HBO screening of Renee’s YoungArts Master Class, the diva guided the crowd on singing that tune to YoungArts’ Lin Arison.
I gamely started on the first few notes, but got a little intimidated as Fleming’s voice soared as if she were doing Il Trovatore.
She and some brave other people finished out the tune.
Anyway, the 30-minute program is brilliant, Renee guiding four young singers–including one guy who learned opera off YouTube–by giving them tips like “Stick out your tongue,” “Put a cough drop in your mouth,” “Bite down on a pencil,” and “Put your hands in a chicken wing position.”
The results of this game of cultural Twister are tremendous, and the whole thing ends up being a moving exercise in art that would even have Callas weeping.
By the way, the birthday lady told us that Josh Groban was once a student at one of the Master classes and was told he’d never make it.
But he’s not angry. Groban has agreed to simply do his own Master Class telling kids how to handle that kind of harsh advice.
And he was there at Renee’s screening! Singing “Happy Birthday”!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 21, 2012