Renee Fleming admits she is "overwhelmed" at the prospect of singing the US national anthem at Sunday's Super Bowl, when she'll become the first opera singer to perform at America's biggest sporting event.
The celebrated soprano, winner of four Grammy Awards, sang at the 2012 Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II and also at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But she said Thursday that Super Bowl 48, which will be watched by more than 110 million people in the United States and hundreds of millions of others around the world, was another level entirely.
Her performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" just before the showdown between Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will be the biggest audience she has ever had.
"The Super Bowl seems to touch everybody. In my lifetime it will be certainly number one," the 54-year-old glamorous blonde told a news conference in the Rose Theater in Manhattan.
"It's pretty overwhelming -- the size of the audience -- obviously for anybody," said Fleming, smartly dressed in a black jacket, long gray skirt and black boots.
More than 164 million people in the US watched the Super Bowl on TV last year, making it the most-watched event in US television history.
Brought up in Rochester, New York, Fleming admitted she was taking "an enormous risk" due to the level of public exposure and the different conditions of a live outdoor event compared to an opera house.
"I work in a world which is completely no tech, zero amplifications and all live acoustic music. So I expect to be really distracted by the amount of sound coming from the system," she said.
Among the stars who have sung the national anthem at the Super Bowl are Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.
The long list of pop superstars made the selection of a soprano something of a surprise, even though she has earned the moniker the "people's diva" for her cross-over following.
"If you asked me six months ago if I'd be doing this I would have laughed," said Fleming, who admitted that she was "shocked, surprised, absolutely thrilled and honored" by the request.
In September, she appeared on the "Late Show With David Letterman" to sing an operatic "Top Ten" powering through snippets of popular opera arias using doctored, topical lyrics.
She currently sings the lead role in Antonin Dvorak's "Rusalka" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Date created : 2014-01-30