Breaking: This year’s Super Bowl soprano is….

Breaking: This year’s Super Bowl soprano is….


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2014

renee fleming backless

Full story here. It is claimed that she is the first opera diva to be awarded the honour of singing the national anthem before the big game. True, or not?

One of our Twitter followers writes: good choice, it’ll be in tune and I doubt she’ll have a wardrobe ‘malfunction’ either…


  • Pamela Brown says:

    This will be wonderful — just think, someone who actually knows how to sing!

  • Paul Mazur says:

    La clemenza di NFL.

  • Joy to the football world! An elegant artist at an event displaying crippling brute force. Pearl, meet swine.

  • Marc says:

    Well, let’s remember another “diva” (Lord, I’m starting to hate that overused term). Back in 1991, when we we’d just gotten started in the Persian Gulf War, and patriotism (albeit it misplaced, in retrospect) was sky-high, Whitney Houston pretty much nailed the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in Tampa. They’re still talking about it.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Will she do it “belt” or “legit”?

  • Vincent DeOrio says:

    About time. I hope she plays it straight. “The Star ‘Mangled’ Banner” is one of the most abused anthems in the world.

  • Paula forrest says:

    Be still my heart! Finally, we can expect true artistry and dignity.

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    Is it an honor? Really? What is the world coming to? Lang Lang teams up with Metalica and René joins the Super Ball? A rather sad state of the arts we are living in

    • Dave T says:

      Huh? Fleming is a great artist whose fame comes from performing a great art. The Super B-O-W-L is the most watched event in the world, aside from some soccer games and perhaps the Olympic opening ceremonies. A couple hundred million viewers will get to see this talent perform its country’s national anthem. What could be better? The selection of Fleming honors both her and the event. Sad? Hardly. I consider it a triumph.

      You, Sanda, have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Janey says:

    It does seem that she is the first classical singer to sing it. Congratulations to one of the great divas of our time.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Perhaps the closest we come to a precedent: Robert Merill, 1969.

    • Pete says:

      Robert Merrill sang at the home opening day for the NY Yankees for many years beginning in 1969. He also sang in at least one World Series game for the Yankees many times beginning with the Yankees appearance in the ’76 World Series.

      The Yankees still use a recorded version of Robert Merrill singing the national anthem in the new Yankee Stadium for some regular season games.

  • nick says:

    I just hope no planned “wardrobe malfunction”!

  • MarieTherese says:

    I think that it’s terrific! Maybe a few people will wake up and realize that a real singer is not merely,someone who appears on “American Idol” or “(Whomever) Has Talent”.

  • I hope this contributes to a popular renaissance in quality music appreciation, opening the way for more exposure of classical and related genres!

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I wish you were right. The experience of the wildly popular three tenors concerts in the 90s and early 2000s points otherwise.

      • m2n2k says:

        Are you absolutely sure about that? Can you prove that without any of those performances by the three tenors opera would have been just as popular as it is now?

  • JJC says:

    I seem to remember that a dozen or so years ago she sang the national anthem in Yankee Stadium for the World Series. It was acapella, very dignified and arresting.

    • Michael says:

      Yes she did sing the national anthem in Yankee Stadium for the 2003 World Series and forgot the words. She had to ad-lib her way through the performance.

      Hope she is learning the words for her upcoming performance.

  • Eric says:

    It’s not apples to apple to equate her pre-game national anthem to the wardrobe malfunction that happened during the intermission entertainment, which is always in need of being something more to keep the attention span of the super bowl audience.

  • Chesterton says:

    Doesn’t Katherine Jenkins go around singing the national anthem in the UK? To what appears to be considerable derision around here? Not comparing the voices, just the choice of activity — how is what’s shameless self-promotion for onenot so for another?

    • Martin says:

      It is for both.

      This anthem singing is not needed at 99% of the events an anthem is sung. Not only because the singers usually are not worth listening to.

      But even the worst rendition of many anthems is better than a good one of my country’s boring song.

  • ehkzu says:

    Too bad Brits don’t use Jerusalem–now that’s both beautiful and stirring.

    And if Scotland secedes they can do “Scots wha hae” which all us Scot-blooded folks weep over like Jews do over Hatikvah…