A little over a month ago, we were brought via radio broadcast inside Prince Albert Hall in London where a soprano - in a class all her own - sang Strauss and Smetana.
While the general atmosphere of the Last Night of the Proms is a bit rowdy, the intensity, color, expressiveness and ease of this soprano's singing brought an expectant hush over the restless crowd, so captivated no one dare breathe.
That soprano is Renee Fleming.
She's appeared in every great opera house and sung with the world's greatest orchestras. She's sung for President Obama's inauguration and won THREE Grammy's including the 2010 Best Classical Vocal Performance.
And this Thursday, she'll open the Schubert Club's International Artist Series at the Ordway Center in downtown Saint Paul.
Marking the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler's birth, Ms. Fleming will start her recital with one of the most remarkable settings of poetry, Mahler's Ruckert Lieder. She'll later share a work written for her by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau with words from Rilke's "The Book of Hours." Songs by Wolfgang Korngold from early in his career open the second half and the recital is rounded out by arias from two versions of La Boheme by Puccini and Leoncavallo.
Ms. Fleming is no stranger to the Ordway - a place she says she loves to sing. This will be her third appearance, and has long been sold out.