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Opera star Fleming wows with national anthem

| Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, 7:39 p.m.
Soprano Renee Fleming sings the U.S. National Anthem prior to the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, New Jersey, February 2, 2014.

Opera star Renee Fleming's confident singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” touched many moods Sunday night before the Super Bowl.

The first opera singer to have this honor, she offered an often stately approach at a slow tempo. It was beautifully sustained and pitch perfect — but did not try to compete with the emotional impact of pop divas who have sung it in years past.

The four-time Grammy winner went for the extra points on the treacherous high note of “land of the free” by jumping to an even higher note, as she also did on the word “brave” at the end of the anthem.

She sang an arrangement by Robert Mathes, which began with a few soft measures, but the audio mix kept the 32-voice Armed Forces chorus and prerecorded New Jersey Symphony far in the background.

Fleming, who will sing a recital for Pittsburgh Opera on Feb. 18, performed for Pittsburgh Opera Theater early in her career. She currently is starring in a production of “Rusalka” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or

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