Culture clash at the Super Bowl as opera singer performs national anthem

2014-02-02T07:00:00Z 2014-02-20T20:04:59Z Culture clash at the Super Bowl as opera singer performs national anthemCathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 02, 2014 7:00 am  • 

Pop stars have done it. Ditto for country artists and Broadway stars.

But never in the 48-game history of the Super Bowl has an opera singer sung the National Anthem before kickoff. 

That changes today when one of the world's finest operatic sopranos Renée Fleming  takes to the field.

"It is kind of an interesting concept," says mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, a start of the New York Metropolitan Opera who will guest with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra during the second annual Tucson Desert Song Festival. "I think it's a really good thing because with the game in New York City and the surrounding areas, I think they wanted to show that this is a cultural center as well. Not only do we have big sports teams and pop stars coming in doing shows all the time, but we have fantastic classical music in this city.So I am really glad we're being represented in such a way."

Fleming, who will perform a recital with UApresents on May 4, was tapped last week to sing the Star Spangled Banner, which in years past has been the sole honor of boy bands, TV personalities and pop stars.

Fleming, while a household name among opera lovers, is pretty well unknown to most folks, but Johnson Cano said she hopes her performance will open the door for opera to reach new audiences.

"I think it's great for opera and classical music," she said, adding that the buzz surrounding Fleming's appearance has been loudest in New York, where Johnson Cano and her husband, Tucson native Christopher Cano, call home.

"I never expected it to get as much press as it has, but every day I'm seeing all this stuff about opera singers singing the National Anthem. So now I have to watch it to see what people have to say about it," she said.

Read more of our interview with Johnson Cano and her appearance in the Song Festival in Thursday's Caliente.

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