OSCARS: Matching Singer With Song For 'Rise Of The Guardians'

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor. Rise of The GuardiansIt’s not unusual to have big names in popular music perform end-title songs for major movies. Opera singers, though, don’t generally roll that way. But nobody ever said they can’t. Which is why Alexandre Desplat, who composed the music for Rise Of The Guardians, decided to approach soprano Renée Fleming about singing “Still Dream,” which uses the melody he wrote for the picture’s main theme and lyrics by the film’s screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire.

“It covers two octaves,” Desplat says of the song. “The music is very orchestral; the melody, very lyrical. So it really made sense to ask Renée Fleming, who is the greatest soprano alive. And she said yes right away. It was a suggestion that could have been rejected, but it was right — though I can’t remember the last time a soprano sang an end-title song.”

Related: OSCARS: Alexandre Desplat

“It’s really an aria he composed,” Fleming says. “It’s got a huge range and is quite demanding melodically — very instrumental. So it was a challenge for me, but it’s so beautiful. Alexandre has an extraordinary melodic gift. I’d never met him before this, but I was familiar with his work, because he’s done so many wonderful scores.” Their collaboration went smoothly despite the lack of prior history, although they didn’t actually meet until a specially arranged recording session in New York that followed the full score’s recording in London. “We went back and forth about key and range on the phone and email,” Fleming recalls. “He did several rewrites, but I wasn’t the only one making requests. This all came together in a very short period of time. I couldn’t be there in London, but he was with me in New York.”

Fleming got the lyrics only after Desplat had already sent the music. “I was under a mountain of deadlines when they called,” Lindsay-Abaire says. “But I couldn’t say no. Alexandre was very set that he wanted the song to revisit and rearticulate the score’s themes. He didn’t want to just tack something onto the end. And in that way, it felt very organic to the movie that was already there. We took the ‘believe theme’ — where the little boy believes in Jack Frost for the first time — and it was like, ‘Oh, our work is halfway done.’ He wanted the song to have the same sweep and epic quality the film has. It’s not the standard ‘stick a pop song at the end of a movie.’ It embraces the wonder of childhood and boils it down.”

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  1. The song doesn’t work. It’s horrible. It’s a pop song with an operatic soprano singing it. Bad call on the composers part.

  2. Since when is Rene Fleming the greatest soprano alive ?
    Does Dawn Upshaw know that ? Do they know that in Italy ???

  3. I thought the song was beautiful. The fit with Working in the yard. Yesterday today and into the week. You can no longer say our house is the one with the dead tree. I will not know where i live. O well. At least i will be able to meet some more neighbors. Or not so good as at least i will think i am on the wrong neighborhood and spend a few days until someone hears my phone ring which i would have had no ides as to where the noise was coming. O. You can now park a motorcycle or two in the garage. storyline was perfect. As for Fleming being the best soprano, that’s his opinion to which he is entitled. Now the guy who thinks this sounds like a pop song needs to listen to more top 40. Definition of pop music (n)
    pop mu·sic
    commercial music:modern commercial music, usually tuneful, up-tempo and repetitive, that is aimed at the general public and the youth market in particular
    Still Dream doesn’t fit the definition of pop song.

  4. Its a beautiful song. The movie isn’t supposed to be “just there”. It wasn’t. It reminded me of my youth and the joy of believing in fairy tales. The song is just the perfect ending to a wonderful film. Love it! Love it!! Love it!!!

  5. I was completely taken by rhe movie . Each not captivating my emotions and taking me right , with each character. The closing song bejisimo. I am a 53 yearold woman that has never stop beleiving in my dreams of real true love and each amimatwd movie that i watch causr sometimes violence is just to much for me, i find my center in the the characters, the mudics tje melodies tje song

  6. The perfect fantasy superhero movie. A whole me take on supwrhero.. What a fantastic movie. My heary was completely involved.in every emotion. I can’t thank everyone invovled for bring me such joy emotion and heart felt memory. As a little girl many, many dreams were stolen.thank you so much dreamworks for giving them back. Giving me hope and tetrific laughter.I love dreamworks movies and this wad one of the best for me .the closing song left me with a heel in my throught.absolutely beautiful opera delivered so well

  7. Marky ,you are
    so dead wrong.. But then again you know what they say about opinions

  8. Purchased this movie (“Rise of the Guardians”) for my kids (okay, I admit it, I really love the film and never fail to watch with their repeated viewings). It was a quieting moment hearing the end title for the first time. It was no shocker it was Fleming’s voice, as this was she who was the voice of The Ring in “Lord Of The Rings – Return Of The King”.

    Using Fleming for this end title to “Rise of the Guardians” confirmed the ethereal heart of this film. What other way could this film end? My word, this was no “How To Train Your Dragon” (an equally excellent animated film, but about characters cut from a completely different fabric) where an upbeat pop-tune works great. “Rise of the Guardians” taps into that yearning to extend beyond this world to greater realities. This film needed the likes of Renee Fleming.

    For those who have ears to hear, you are blessed by this choice. For those who fail to understand, well, I feel sorry for you.

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