EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey Opera great Renee Fleming opened Sunday's Super Bowl NFL championship with a lyrical, flowing version of the U.S. national anthem.
Backed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of singers from all four branches of the U.S. armed forces, the soprano performed a powerful version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," showing off her range with the high notes at the "land of the free" lyric that is the song's apex and poses singers a technical challenge.
Fleming, a four-time Grammy Award Winner, wore a black-and-white cape-like dress designed by Vera Wang, while the stadium's enormous video monitors showed footage of troops overseas watching, prompting loud cheers from the crowd at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Before Fleming's performance, hip-hop and movie star Queen Latifah, a Grammy Award winner in her own right, sang "America, the Beautiful," accompanied by a children's choir and backed by about two dozen flag bearers carrying individual red, white and blue banners.
It was far from Fleming's first high-profile performance. She has sung at the Beijing Olympics, Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Concert and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
U.S. President Barack Obama last year awarded Fleming the National Medal of Arts.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)