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What does opera have to do with football? More than you’d expect

By Meghann Wilhoite

Perhaps you saw that Dr. Pepper ad in which Ravens kicker Justin Tucker shows off his opera chops, singing in a quite lovely bass-baritone voice:

Well, we saw it, and it got us thinking: have there been other opera-singing American football players? How often does the mandolin solo from Don Giovanni appear in football-related ads? The answer to the first question is “yes, a surprising number.” In no particular order, here are some golden-throated pigskin hurlers:

Ta’u Pupu’a, former NFL defensive lineman and Juilliard School graduate.

Keith Miller, former University of Colorado fullback making regular appearances at the Metropolitan Opera.

Morris DeRhon Robinson, former Citadel offensive guard and prolific concert singer.

Lawrence “Larry” Harris, former offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers, who has appeared in productions throughout the United States.

Paul Robeson, former Rutgers University player, who was less focused on opera as a singer, but too good not to include here.

The answer to the second question? We’ll just go with “not very”.

So maybe listening to Don Giovanni isn’t the best way to prepare for the big game. But with legendary soprano Renée Fleming singing the national anthem before the Seahawks and Broncos face off this weekend — the first time an opera singer has ever sung the anthem at the Superbowl — there’s never been a better time to crack open a beer, grab some nachos, and listen to your favorite aria.

Meghann Wilhoite is an Assistant Editor at Grove Music/Oxford Music Online, music blogger, and organist. Follow her on Twitter at @megwilhoite. Read her previous blog posts on Sibelius, the pipe organ, John Zorn, West Side Story, and other subjects.

Oxford Music Online is the gateway offering users the ability to access and cross-search multiple music reference resources in one location. With Grove Music Online as its cornerstone, Oxford Music Online also contains The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

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  1. [...] to the OUPblog. Over the years she has shared her knowledge and insights on topics ranging from football and opera to Monteverdi and Bob Dylan, so we thought it was about time to get to know her a bit [...]

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