Will Renee Fleming Pull Back From Opera Performances? [Updated]

<p>(Photo: Decca/Timothy White)</p>
<p>Soprano Renee Fleming </p>
Photo: Renee Fleming
Soprano Renee Fleming

hinted at it before, but the New York Times reported this week that soprano Renee Fleming is getting ready to retire from the opera stage.

[UPDATED: Fleming later told NPR that while she's retiring some favorite opera roles, she has no plans to step away from opera entirely. This post has been lightly edited to reflect the singer's clarifying remarks.]

The superstar's upcoming Met Opera performances in "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss may be her last in one of her signature roles, according to the Times:

People who know Ms. Fleming, 58, say that she has been planning this moment for years. The novelist Ann Patchett, who became friends with her after finishing “Bel Canto,” about a diva with many Fleming-like traits, said recently: “For as long as I’ve known Renée, the thing she always talks about is the fact that it’s all going to end. She has always had this feeling: ‘I’m a carton of yogurt with an expiration date stamped on it, and that day will come and I’ll be thrown out.’”

So Ms. Fleming is trying to say goodbye on her own terms. “You don’t want people to be saying, ‘Oh my God, please stop,’” she said in London as she prepared to finish the “Rosenkavalier” run there. “Or, ‘I heard her when.’”

"Der Rosenkavalier" is the finale of the current season of Met Opera radio broadcasts. It airs Saturday, May 13, on CPR Classical.

There's a silver lining for fans of Fleming's singing: Classical MPR points out Fleming will likely focus on concerts and recording in the years to come.

She's given memorable performances away from the opera stage, including an appearance singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 2014.