Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Fever: Opera Style

Did you catch soprano Measha Brueggergosman singing the Olympic hymn during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games this past Friday? Can we say FIERCE?!

The New Brunswick native sang the choral cantata by Greek composer Spyridon Samaras and poet Kostis Palamas (no lip synching y'all) and the world watched. Even better, Brueggergosman sang the anthem in English and French to reflect our country's bilingualism.

This is certainly not the first time opera has made such an impression on the Olympics games.

During the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain, soprano Sarah Brightman and tenor Jose Carreras sang Amigos Para Siempre (Friends for Life), composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan saw conductor Seiji Ozawa conduct Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Ode to Joy with choruses from five different continents and a Japanese chorus of 2000. Okay, technically it's not opera, but c'mon it's the classical classic, Ode to Joy.

In 2004 at the Olympic games in Athens, Greece, Russian tenor Michael Kleitman made his live-stage world premiere.

At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turino, Italy, Luciano Pavarotti took the stage for the last time, singing Nessun Dorma to thundering applause and a standing ovation.

At the end of closing ceremonies of the Turino games, BC born and internationally renowned tenor Ben Heppner sang the Canadian national anthem, a cappella style, to herald the start of the countdown to the Vancouver Olympic Games.

At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, cross-over superstar soprano Sarah Brightman shared the stage with Chinese singer Liu Huan to sing You and Me in Mandarin and English.

Looks like the Olympics and opera go hand in hand; both capturing people's attention worldwide.

~ Ling Chan

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