The Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show will have a decidedly contemporary flavor with Bruno Mars performing, but the NFL decided to diversify its musical portfolio by choosing opera singer Renee Fleming to perform the national anthem, according to the NFL communications department:
Fleming seems like an interesting choice on the surface since opera and football generally don't mix, but the NFL was clearly impressed with her resume in terms of performing at important events, as evidenced by the league's official press release:
Fleming has performed at other major events worldwide including the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and during the Olympics in Beijing. At a White House ceremony last July, the President awarded Fleming the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest honor for an individual artist.
The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will have football on their minds no matter what, but the national anthem is actually quite important in terms of creating a great atmosphere and setting a tone for the game.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Whitney Houston's famous rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" preceded arguably the greatest Super Bowl of all time in 1991, when the New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills by one point in Super Bowl XXV.
Fleming could very well perform wonderfully on Feb. 2, but the reaction to her selection has been mixed thus far.
ESPN's Trey Wingo joked that the NFL's core audience may not exactly appreciate Fleming's singing style:
Because, you know, all football fans dig the Opera http://t.co/Yfpch1l4FQ— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 21, 2014
On the other hand, Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com is thrilled that Fleming will belt out the national anthem at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.:
Opera star Renee Fleming to sing anthem at Super Bowl. Excellent choice. #nfl— Jane McManus (@janesports) January 21, 2014
Of course, there has been no shortage of jokes. Tom Rock of Newsday made a clever connection between Fleming's singing voice and one of the most popular television dramas of all time:
A Super Bowl in New Jersey? Of course a Soprano will sing the National Anthem!— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) January 21, 2014
Also, Tim Sullivan of The Courier-Journal wondered why the NFL refrained from making a slightly more controversial choice:
#NFL selects Renee Fleming to sing national anthem at the Super Bowl. Hard to believe Miley Cyrus missed out.— Tim Sullivan (@TimSullivan714) January 21, 2014
Whatever the case, the 54-year-old Fleming, who is known by some as "the People's Diva," unquestionably has the credentials necessary to thrive in this gig as she is a four-time Grammy winner.
Super Bowl XLVIII is already a Super Bowl of firsts since it will be played in a cold-weather locale, so it only makes sense that this national anthem is the first of its kind as well.
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