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Renee Fleming and Elvis Costello

I had the good fortune to attend a Renee Fleming recital a few years ago, and it may have been the best musical experience I’ve ever had. The divine American soprano was accompanied by the French pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet, with whom she’d made a recording. Thibaudet was fantastic, and the two of them made quite a team, but Ms. Fleming was unbelievable.

Renee Fleming is one of the greatest singers of our time. She’s also – to my mind – one of the most fascinating (and maybe even under-appreciated).

If you’re an opera/classical music fan, you know what I’m talking about. But even though she’s had some mainstream exposure, she remains an unknown quantity to most people, and in a world where talent-less hacks regularly achieve household name status, this borders on the criminal.

She sings in French, Russian, German, Italian, Czech (and occasionally English), and has literally dozens of big, complicated operatic roles in her head – along with hundreds of songs by the great composers, many of them difficult and demanding in a variety of ways. It boggles the mind, truly.

And if all the opera repertoire weren’t enough, she even dips into jazz and folk on occasion (including this occasion, on Spectacle)

Ms. Fleming’s passion for music and for what she does is palpable, and her personality and sense of humor make her all the more appealing in this session with Elvis. And when she sings…well, whether it’s the Puccini aria or the more proletariat material, all I can say is get comfortable and let the astonishing instrument that is her voice wash over you because it’s really something.

Oh, and look out for a special guest who pops up and sings something gorgeous (in a foreign language, no less). If you appreciate the voice, you should enjoy this edition of Spectacle (starting with a great opening number by our esteemed host).

Thanks for watching.

Stephen Warden
Executive Producer/Creator
Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…