Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl - Super Anthem

I have heard quite a bit of praise for Renee Fleming's rendition of the national anthem at the Super Bowl yesterday. This marked the first time in the history of the Super Bowl that an opera singer was given the chance to sing the anthem. She did not disappoint either. If you have been to an opera, or other events featuring classically trained singers, you know what the human voice can do when it has been shaped and formed by years of classical training. It really is amazing. Not to take anything away from non-classically trained singers. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Barbra Streisand, Andy Williams....and on and on....had no formal vocal training but are all regarded as some of the finest vocalists of the last century.
They surely would have sung the national anthem with their signature styles and made it memorable. But to hear someone from the world of classical music sing at such a major cultural event is a BIG deal. Will people rush to download opera, or pour into opera concerts because of Ms. Fleming's performance? I am not sure about that. But I hope it at least showed the more than 100 million viewers that the human voice "in the hands of a trained professional" is a special thing, worth continued listening and exposure.
I'll close here with a reference to a great video that is available on YouTube that also illustrates this point; Bono and Luciano Pavarotti shared the stage singing Ave Maria in 2003. Bono starts, in his own cool "U2" style and is GOOD. Then its Luciano's turn and he raises the roof with the power of his voice. Props to Bono for having the courage to put himself out there like that. It was a brave thing to do. But it illustrates the power and majesty of vocalists who are formally trained and dedicated to singing in the operatic style. And that's my today's world, these marvelous singers have the smallest audiences. I guarantee that 100x as many people know who Bruno Mars is versus Renee Fleming.

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