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Top Five Links Between Classical Music and Football

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Devin Thomas #15 of the New York Giants advances the ball after he recovered on a punt touched by Chris Culliver #29 of the San Francisco 49ers.

Editor's Note: This article originally ran ahead of the Super Bowl in 2012:

This Sunday, local sports fans will be on edge as the New York Giants and New England Patriots play for the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. What does that have to do with classical music, you ask? Plenty.

Though sports and arts fall in separate sections of the newspaper, the pair come into contact frequently. Our favorite things the concert hall has adopted from the gridiron.

1. Opera Singers

Perhaps it’s the stamina or the constant training necessary to be a successful athlete that has turned more than a few former football players into singers. Before he was employed by Baltimore's Lyric Opera, tenor Ta'u Pupu'a played for the hometown Ravens. Metropolitan opera bass Keith Miller was an elite college player, and bass-baritone Lawrence Harris once played for the Houston Oilers. Morris Robinson, also a bass who sings frequently at the Met, was a two-time All-American offensive lineman at the Citadel.

2. Live Telecasts

The Metropolitan Opera’s doing it, the LA Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet are all investing in live telecasts of performances. But before all these arts groups beamed their productions into movie theaters, sports—and especially football—mastered the art of providing live drama through the airwaves. Even the behind-the-stage intermission interviews with singers such as Renee Fleming are reminiscent of the halftime sideline reports.

3. Venues

Last week the Dallas Opera announced that it would present a free simulcast of an April 28  performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The announcement wouldn’t have been newsworthy, except that the simulcast will take place on Cowboys Stadium's gigantic HD video screen (which consists of four screens suspended over the field). Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s wife Gene, “Sporting events and great art do something similar—they get people talking."

4. Pricing strategies

This season the LA Opera will use a new dynamic ticket pricing structure to sell seats to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The practice, which bases ticket prices on consumer demand, has been used within sports for several years and recently has come to Broadway.  

5. Inspiration

We’ve yet to see a football-themed opera (at least one featuring the American version of the sport), but the game has inspired a few composers to create notable works. Most famously, Charles Ives condensed the action of Ivy League rivalry game in Yale-Princeton Football Game (spoiler alert: Yale wins).

More recently, Cleveland radio station WCLV has commissioned Case Western music professor Ross Duffin to write a few odes to the local team. In honor of the team competing in the 1986 AFC Championship Game, he penned write "Happy, Happy! We Love Our Cleveland Browns." He also celebrated the new Browns franchise in Cleveland (the team had moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens) in his 1999 song "The Browns, They are from Cleveland."

Weigh in: Do you find similarities in football and classical music? Tell us about them below.