Soprano Renée Fleming scored big with her performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl 2014 this evening. Clad in a black dress and flowing white cape, the four-time Grammy winner navigated the difficult song with ease and power. Fleming was accompanied by 32 vocalists from each of the military branches and a recording of the New Jersey Symphony.
This performance marks the first time that an operatic vocalist has performed at the Super Bowl. The NFL's choice of vocalist was surprising to everybody, including Fleming. According to an AP report, she didn't believe the NFL was serious when they first asked her to sing the national anthem.
"Really, I just rejected it out of hand," she said. "I just thought, 'Oh that's ridiculous, you know, it must be a joke.' Nobody's going to ask me to sing for the Super Bowl, even the national anthem, because it's just never been done, that anybody who was in classical music or any other genre, frankly, other than really mainstream, successful, top-selling, commercial, mainstream artists. So I was stunned when it was real!"
Following the initial news, Fleming continued to make headlines by announcing that she would sing the anthem live. In a press conference this past Thursday, she explained that she is used to singing live and "wouldn't know how to lip-sync if you paid me."
Tonight's Super Bowl is a battle between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.