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Renée Fleming: 5 Things to Know About the Super Bowl National Anthem Singer

Updated

Dennis Van Tine/ABACA

On Sunday evening, opera star Renée Fleming took the stage at the Super Bowl to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” – making her the first-ever opera star to sing the anthem at the big game (and the first non-pop star since 2005).

Here are five things you need to know about the highly regarded New York soprano.

The Super Bowl organizers described her as "the Peyton Manning of the arts world."
And no, it’s not because of her rivalry with Tom Brady. Rather, like the Broncos signal-caller, Fleming is a preternaturally talented professional at the top of her field. She’s sung for Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II, both of which are basically like winning a Super Bowl for opera singers.

She’s in the same company as Tony Kushner, George Lucas, Elaine May and Herb Alpert.
All have been awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2012, America’s highest honor for artistic achievement.

She comes from a musical family.
Fleming’s parents were both music teachers, and the family would travel around the country harmonizing together. “I think [my mother’s] idea was that we would be the next Von Trapps,” she told Alec Baldwin in 2012. “My father, thank God, put the kibosh on that.”

She once sang on Sesame Street.
In 2001, Fleming taught young viewers how to count in this appearance on the long-running children’s TV show:

She’s chummy with David Letterman.
Fleming showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman to sing a list of the top 10 opera lyrics:

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