Well, it happened. The most opera ever in a Super Bowl. After all of the “hype” and “controversy” that the media stirred up, an opera singer sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Was it good? Was it terrible? Did it help the world of classical music and opera? Did it hurt it? Well, regardless of your opinion concerning the style and tone and arrangement and dress, this seems to go into the “win” column. For everyone.
For the non-initiated, they got to hear a different style than they were used to, and they seemed impressed. As soon as mega-soprano Renée Fleming finished singing, I ran to twitter to see what people were saying. Yes, there was the occasional “worst anthem ever” tweet, but mostly what I found was a nation bowled over and overwhelmed by the power of the human voice. They experienced something touching, moving, and perhaps surprising, which made the experiment worth it.
For those of us in the opera world already, it was also a win. Yes, the arrangement was a little weird. It was in 4 instead of in 3, and there was a teensy bit of styling thrown in there that not all approve of. But come on! Would you really rather go back to hearing whomever just won American Idol? Seriously, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Be happy. And even if you hated the rendition, be happy that the rest of America did not. Be happy that news outlets almost unanimously put up headlines that said something great about opera. This was major exposure, and it was positive exposure. Whether or not your ticket sales will immediately go up, I can’t say, but the perception has changed slightly. And that’s a good thing.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, Morpheus sang “Nessun Dorma” in the back of a Kia while he was hunted down by agents and streetlights exploded all around him. “This is what luxury sounds like,” he said, before blowing on a pitch pipe and lip synching to some Puccini. Yes, we got to hear opera twice on Sunday night. The first time it was sung by an attractive, non-gigantic, non-helmet-wearing, woman to a patriotic crowd of millions, and the second time it was sung by a 90’s movie character in a car commercial. Take that, stereotypes!
We can endlessly discuss the individual bits and pieces of the anthem until the
fat lady sings cows come home, and you can tell me why you did or did not like the key she chose, or why you love or hate your Kia, but when the clock ran out, and the final score was counted, it was clear without needing any video playback or ref huddle. Opera won the game, 43-8.