Private Lives Public Places

Renée Fleming, opera singer

Renée Fleming, who will perform Violetta in La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in September, caught a case of travel fever after a record-promoting tour to Korea and Australia last year. "Now I want to go everywhere," says the Grammy-winning soprano, who will release a new CD in September. But a vacation will have to wait; Fleming's fall schedule includes Italy, then Prague, then New York to start the "Diva" tour—and, with any luck, back home to Connecticut. In the meantime, she shares a few notes on life in the spotlight and on the road.

HOTEL ROOMS I LOVE
• In the Paris InterContinental, a suite overlooking the Tuileries. I am a view fanatic, because on concert days I have to stay inside and rest my voice.
• The Okura in Tokyo for its impeccable service, beautiful gardens, and great location.

WHEN I'M FEELING LIKE A DIVA
I get a great massage. The best one ever was with Karla Downing in San Francisco (415-722-1258). She comes to your house or hotel room.

I'M AT MY MOST UN-DIVA-LIKE
When I'm dancing, say, at a blues club. Isaac Hayes in Chicago is the best. It's so big it never gets too smoky.

IN MY CD PLAYER NOW
On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams, which I'm so happy won the Pulitzer. Also, Anouar Brahem's La Pas du Chat Noir and Kurt Elling's Flirting with Twilight. And I always love Fred Hersch, Joni Mitchell, and so many interpretations of La Traviata.

MY PERFECT VACATION
At home in Connecticut with my kids and reading The New York Times. I always look for my friend Ann Patchett's byline. She told me that the character in Bel Canto was inspired by my recordings.

WHAT INSPIRES ME
The irises in my garden. I even had one named after me which debuts next year. Beverly Sills has one too.

WHEN I NEED A SUGAR RUSH
I go for one of the new chocolate mint Atkins Endulge bars. They're the closest thing I have ever tasted to Girl Scouts' Thin Mints.

THE ONLY THREE CITIES I SHOP
New York, Paris, and Tokyo. And I only shop at three stores: Gianfranco Ferre, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake. But I'm always on the Internet—amazon.com, netrition.com, and half.com for out-of-print books.

WHERE I LOVE TO SING
The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Tonhalle in Zurich, and the Palais Garnier in Paris.

I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
My ThinkPad T30 laptop. Talking on the telephone tires out my voice. E-mail allows me to stay in touch with people.

MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Daniel in New York. He has become a good friend. He even made a dessert for me called Diva Renée au Chocolat. It's only on the menu around the holidays.
Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. I recently had a great meal there—ten courses with 12 different wines.
Georges, on top of the Pompidou center, especially in the summer. You can see every major Paris landmark.
Café Luxembourg on New York's Upper West Side. I love the skate with capers.

IF I COULD BE ANY OPERA HEROINE
I'd be the Marschallin from Der Rosenkavalier; she has integrity, and she's sexy, too. And, of course, Violetta from La Traviata. She'd be a CEO today.

THE BEST PART OF A TRIP
Coming home. My ten-year-old daughter told me yesterday that she wanted to be an opera singer, which I took as the ultimate compliment.