So there she was: the radiant Renee Fleming, in a light green gown full of sparkles and trailing a shot-silk scarf, took the stage in the Albert Hall, voice floating through the stratospheres like a golden eagle (UPDATE: Intermezzo has a photo of her, in said dress). Her Berg Seven Early Songs (actually eight - an extra one had been orchestrated for her) were ideally expressive, dark-toned, that voice blending with the sympathetic BBC Phil as a strand of its fabric; and the first Korngold aria, from Die Kathrin, was sweet and touching.
But she was saving the best for last. With the first notes of the great aria 'Ich ging zu ihm' from Das Wunder der Heliane, something remarkable happened. Renee didn't only sing Heliane; she became her. The tragedy, the rapture, the transfiguration - it was all there. I think everyone in my group was moved to tears. The Telegraph today speaks of the aria's 'intense, jaw-dropping beauty'.
Most think Heliane can't be staged (bad libretto, pretentious, weird, etc etc) but I'm getting the feeling that this isn't so. Because the role could have been written for Renee. She has to sing the whole thing, in an opera house. Someone simply has to stage it for her. Isn't there a brave theatre out there that will take it on? And a very brave director? We're already looking forward to the UK concert premiere of the complete opera at the RFH on 21 November (Patricia Racette will sing Heliane there). Now, I think, there's hope.