Cherchez la Fleming

Is Renée Fleming the greatest living American singer? She is known for her combination of vocal allure, versatility, energy and glamour. Fleming’s operatic appearances are fewer now, as she approaches 60 and begins curating her voice more carefully. Still a formidable recitalist, she launches the Schubert Club’s International Artist Series with an entertaining mix of music by Saint-Saëns, Schumann and Boito, along with a dash of Broadway sparkle.TERRY BLAIN

7:30 p.m. Wed. Ordway Music Theater, St. Paul. $27-$101,

Though set in fin de siècle New York, “Ragtime” is concerned with the same triumphs and tragedies that are in today’s headlines. Director Peter Rothstein has scaled this once massive show — a musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s sweeping 1975 novel — into a stripped-down ritual that makes what might have been nostalgia feel current and urgent. Eleven adults and three children tell the parable of our nation’s fraught psyche on a bare stage. A poignant revival.


Through Oct. 23. Ritz Theater, Mpls. $45-$48,

The historic Highland Water Tower, designed by Clarence Wigington and completed in 1928, will be open for guests. Of course, visitors must be willing to climb a 151-step staircase to the observation deck. Once at the top, walkers will not have only made their step-count goal, but will be treated to breathtaking views of the Twin Cities. The panorama will show off fall colors.


9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-next Sun. Highland Park Water Tower, St. Paul. Free,

For one night only, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater presents “Listen / Stories of Cancer told through Movement, Music and Voice.” Commissioned by Gilda’s Club, a cancer support community, the show features stories about living with cancer, surviving cancer, caring for someone with cancer. It also features dancers from the Stuart Pimsler company performing alongside 23 people who’ve participated in Gilda’s Club programs.


7 p.m. Tue. Lab Theater, Mpls. $50-$250,

“Tear the Roof Off,” a documentary about the musicians in George Clinton’s orbit of Parliament Funkadelic, will be featured at the 14th annual Twin Cities Black Film Festival. Director Bobby J. Brown will be at the screening at 8 p.m. Saturday at McNally Smith College of Music. The fest features more than 30 films, a fashion show and social events.


Thu.-Sun. various locations in downtown St. Paul.

Marian Hill stands out in an indie-rock landscape littered with male/female duos. This Philadelphia electro-pop twosome sticks out not because of its curious name (taken from two characters in the musical “Music Man” — Marian Paroo and Harold Hill) but because the alluring Samantha Gongol has an assertive jazzy chanteuse vibe while Jeremy Lloyd helps craft a groove-loving sound with bebop, pop and hip-hop influences.


8 p.m. Thu. First Avenue, Mpls., $20,

Vocalist Heather McElrath brought down the house at the recent Ivey Awards with her stirring performance as Big Mama Thornton. She returns to the stage in “Warm Dark Dusk,” a small musical celebration of the poetry of Langston Hughes. She is joined by singer Pippi Ardennia and actor Richard Woods, who plays Hughes in this production by Judy Cooper Lyle’s dogged Urban Spectrum Theatre Company.


7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 7:30 p.m. next Sun. Phoenix Theater, Mpls. $10,

Twin Cities male vocal group Cantus and its West Coast counterparts Chanticleer are a match made in classical boy-band heaven, guaranteeing elite vocalism in sets performed both separately and in combination. The groups met earlier this year in Virginia while on separate tours, and they had an impromptu jam session on “Ave Maria” over beers in a bar.


7:30 p.m. Mon. Orchestra Hall, Mpls. $30-$250,

The fierce and fabulous performers of the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival will take audiences for a luscious ride next weekend. The third annual festival kicks off Thursday with the “Gilded Lily Gaga” show, with performances by the Lili’s Burlesque troupe and live jazz by the Southside Aces. You can work on your own striptease by attending burlesque workshops.


8 p.m. Thu., 7 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. Lab Theater, Mpls. $30-$50, Also 8 p.m. next Sun. Hell’s Kitchen, Mpls. $10-$25.