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Renee Fleming makes first return to Zellerbach Hall since 2009 / San Jose Mercury News

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With an El Nino-powered storm drenching the streets of Berkeley Saturday night, Renee Fleming seemed slightly astonished to be greeted by a full house for her vocal recital in Zellerbach Hall. No one else could have been surprised. Clearly, it takes more than precipitation to keep this singer's fans away. Presented by Cal Performances, Saturday's event marked the superstar soprano's first return to Zellerbach Hall since 2009, and her program of works by Richard Strauss, Robert Schumann, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Patricia Barber demonstrated that she's still very much in top form.

It also suggested that she's steering her own musical course these days. Fleming recently announced that she will step away from fully staged operas after an upcoming production of Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier" at the Metropolitan Opera, and Saturday's program, deftly accompanied by pianist Olga Kern, included only one opera aria, Puccini's "O mio babbino caro," sung during the encores.  READ THE FULL San Jose Mercury News ARTICLE