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Super Bowl a sample of opera star's talent

Renée Fleming plays the title role in Rusalka. - Ken Howard
Renée Fleming plays the title role in Rusalka.
— image credit: Ken Howard

Bruno Mars wasn't the only singer to rock the Super Bowl.

The pop star may have earned raves for his half-time performance, but the vocal skills of Renée Fleming were also on display to millions of viewers as she kicked off the festivities with her operatic rendition of the American national anthem.

Fleming will return to centre stage on the Cowichan Theate big screen Saturday in the title role of Dvořák's fairy-tale opera Rusalka

Fleming, who has serenaded Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama, was the  first opera singer to perform at the Super Bowl. She said when the NFL first asked her, she didn't think it was real.

"It's just never been done, that anybody who was in classical music or any other genre, frankly, other than really mainstream, successful, top-selling commercial artists. So I was stunned when it was real," she said in a media release.

In Saturday's The Met: Live in HD performance of Anton Dvořák's Rusalka, she plays the water nymph Rusalka.

The fairy-tale opera begins with Rusalka falling in love with a handsome prince. She then begs a witch to grant her mortality so she can be with him. She succeeds, but as part of the deal Rusalka becomes mute. The other part of the deal is the prince must be faithful to her or they both risk death.

"The creamy tone of her voice and the peerless control of the musical line bring out the exquisite lyrical writing of Dvořák's music, and the various shadings she is able to create with her voice express the character's complexity perfectly," Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin said, "There is something special about Renée and Rusalka."

"Fleming creates a sympathetic Rusalka, bringing to the fore her many conflicts and pains, all deeply felt and well-projected," wrote Jerome Sehulster of ctpost.com.

Nézet-Séguin is on the podium for this Metropolitan Opera production, which also features Tenor Piotr Beczala as the Prince and Dolora Zajick is Ježibaba.

The show starts at 9:55 a.m. Tickets are $26, with discounts for seniors, students and children. Call 250-748-7529 or visit  cowichantheatre.ca.

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