We wouldn't have known it before kickoff, but Renee Fleming's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner may have been the highlight of the night. The Seattle Seahawks handily defeated the Denver Broncos in yesterday's Super Bowl 43 - 8. But at least audiences got the pleasure of hearing a LIVE version of the national anthem accompanied by a grandiose 32-voice military choir backed by a pre-recorded track of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Fleming is the first opera singer to get a chance at performing the anthem for a Super Bowl. We are typically accustomed to hearing pop singers and divas take a swing at Francis Scott Key's nearly impossible song to sing. Last year, we heard Alicia Keys. The five years priors were all female pop superstars: Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks. Interestingly enough, four of those five were American Idol standouts.
If you were wondering if perhaps Fleming was aided by some sort of backing vocal track, like Whitney Houston was in her remarkable performance in 1991, the opera singer set the story straight before the big game. "It would be a disaster. I only know how to sing live."
The 54-year-old soprano is a four-time Grammy winner. She's quite famous among the opera crowd and is known for her powerhouse voice. The fans in the stands and players alike seemed mesmerized by her lyrical performance. Fleming has performed at the White House for President Obama. The Metropolitan Opera regular also sang the national anthem at the 2003 World Series in Yankee Stadium.
Music appeared to take center stage last night, as the game seemed to be over by the end of the first half. In fact, today most people are talking about the performances of Fleming, Queen Latifah (who sang America the Beautiful before the game), and the half-time show which featured Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
— Victor Fiorillo (@VictorFiorillo) February 3, 2014
USA Today: "Let’s make a rule that playoff anthems only be performed by classically-trained musicians." http://t.co/GZpcLKuWaX
— Central City Opera (@ccityopera) February 3, 2014
You simply cannot beat a well-sung National Anthem. Goosebumps. Now let’s play some football! http://t.co/iYPwJ0vCvC
— Madeline Davis (@madelinedavis) February 2, 2014
Image via Twitter