A few weeks ago my cousin forwarded And the People Stayed Home to me. I was deeply moved by the beautiful and meaningful text by Kitty O'Meara. It brought to mind my many friends who are living alone and isolated from physical contact with anyone, but the text also imagines a transition through this isolation to a better and more humane world. I felt the urge to set this poem to music, and I envisioned the performer as a single person at home, singing without accompaniment and without the glamorous setting or technical effects that such a document could entail.
I contacted Renée Fleming, one of the greatest artists in the world, and she immediately understood what to do. She already knew the poem, and was able to use her extraordinary voice to project both its simplicity and its intensity, while recording the performance on her iPad in her home. It could not have been done better.— John Corigliano
And she [Fleming] began with a premiere composed for her: John Corigliano’s eloquently understated “And the People Stayed Home,” a setting of a poem written by Catherine M. O’Meara that went viral at the start of the pandemic.
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times 11th August 2020
She [Renee Fleming] opened with a song newly written for her by composer John Corigliano, “And the People Stayed Home,” to a poem by Kitty O’Meara. It was powerful stuff, and spoke strongly to the present crisis.
Sarah Bryan Miller, St, Louis Post Dispatch 2nd August 2020
a dreamy concert that kicked off with a special piece, “And the People Stayed Home,” a poem penned by Kitty O’Meara at the beginning of the pandemic and put to music by composer John Corigliano. Fleming sang “And the people” acapella, the unaccompanied poignant words recounting what people did to occupy themselves as they hunkered down in their residences. With the days of being cooped up still fresh in all our minds, the opening number was a tear-jerker — a term that could apply to much of the program. Chris Ruel, OperaWire 2nd August 2020