Renee Fleming at the Super Bowl: a PR Win for Opera

Do you like opera? (And no, for the last time, Josh Groban does not count.)

For an industry hoping more people say “yes”, yesterday’s announcement that superstar soprano Renee Fleming will sing the National Anthem before Super Bowl XLVIII is a PR coup. We certainly get the appeal: The Guardian describes her as an “unlikely…superstar” who “can seem positively down-to-earth” compared to the divas usually tasked with singing at the Big Game.

…and here she is doing a ditty by some dude named Wolfgang.

So how did the opera world score this win?

While details of how the deal went down are scant, Fleming’s been making her way into the mainstream for some time now. You may recall that she performed at President Obama’s first inauguration; she also sang the anthem at the 2003 World Series.

And who could forget this appearance:

For context, check out this recent user-written BuzzFeed post about the sexification of the genre. We can certainly see why promoters want a little more of this:

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And a little less of this.


For the record, we really don’t get opera—but we do have a feeling this event will make the genre a bit more palatable to many.

(It’s not that we have anything against orchestrated vocal music—quite the contrary. But the endless vibrato…one note can’t last forever!)